Author(s): James Button
James Button spent a year writing speeches for Kevin Rudd. Before that, he reported on politics as a highly regarded journalist for Fairfax. But James also has politics in his blood: his father was the larger-than-life, street-fighting Senator John Button, who was a minister in the Hawke government. Growing up, James watched many political arguments fought under the family roof, witnessed a roll-call of political luminaries debating the direction of the Labor party and saw important victories and defeats at close hand. He believes both his father and his family paid a heavy price for politics. The death of his brother was something that his father never got over and in a deeply moving account, James relates how his father blamed the late nights and all-consuming absorption of politics for his son's death. Speechless is James' highly personal account of watching the rough and tumble of Canberra from both the inside and the outside. It's told through James' experience of Kevin Rudd's disastrous failure to tell his story, and how this helped destroy his prime ministership. This is also the story of a member of Generation X's disenchantment with the Labor Party. Working for Rudd, James paints a colourful picture of the machinations of government, and shows how far the party has moved from the idealism and pragmatism of his father's generation. He ends on a note of hope for the Party's revival.
2013 National Biography Award shortlist
James Button worked in 2009 as a speechwriter to the then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd. He was previously Europe Correspondent for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. He is a former deputy editor and opinion editor of The Age, and has won two Walkley Awards for feature writing. He lives in Melbourne with his wife, May, and children Harry and Lola.