The Brilliant Boy by Gideon Haigh

The Brilliant Boy by Gideon Haigh

In this latest work from the prolific and, yes, brilliant, Gideon Haigh, a stirring and tragic human narrative is enlarged to form the meditation on the life and work of the book’s main ‘brilliant boy’, Herbert Vere Evatt, parliamentarian, historian, and Australia’s youngest High Court judge.

The death by drowning of 7-year-old Maxie Chester, for his mother, her ‘brilliant boy’, leads to a landmark High Court case, Chester v Waverley Corporation (1939). Evatt, whose meteoric rise is charted by Haigh, argues (in a minority ruling) that compassion for the mother, and her ‘psychological injury’ was a principle to be upheld. With masterful economy, Haigh interweaves migrant and social history, and (for many) almost forgotten Australian legal and political history into a compelling read.

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