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Our Exceptional Friend by Emma Shortis embodies every feature of a good non-fiction read. It is fresh, accessible and gets straight to the point. Not a single word is wasted in this partly historical and partly forward-thinking exploration of Australia’s alliance with the United States.
Shortis invites us to consider the vast ramifications of the alliance for Australia – from trade, war and China – before questioning whose interests it really serves. Ever the historian, Shortis takes us on a journey from the past to the present, and asks whether an alliance that made sense in 1950 still makes sense in the 2020s. Her book is glaringly relevant in a world which, as she points out, often takes the Australia-US alliance as a given without stopping to assess what value it brings to Australia, particularly in light of increasing American instability.
Whether you agree or not, it is undeniable that Shortis brings a new perspective into the current discussion, and sparks some other conversations which hadn’t previously existed in mainstream media. This is no small achievement for a field that harbours many voices, and I will be eagerly awaiting to see what Emma Shortis does next.
Our Exceptional Friend is a 5-star read which would be suitable for any with an interest in history and current affairs.