Shirley Smith: An Examined Life

Victoria University Press, 2019

Shirley Smith was one of the most remarkable New Zealanders of the 20th century, a woman whose lifelong commitment to social justice, legal reform, gender equality and community service left a profound legacy.

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‘a model of what a biography should be. … built of well-sourced facts, and those facts tell a ripping yarn.’—Bill Hastings, ‘Searching for the whole truth’, New Zealand Review of Books Pukapuka Aotearoa, 26 August 2019.

‘a fine and thorough biography’—David Herkt,  ‘Shirley Smith: An Examined Life: New book neatly captures her world and ideals’Sunday Star-Times, 12 May 2019.

‘Smith once observed, in a letter to her father: ‘one seems to have lived many lives in a lifetime’. But all that living exerted its toll, too, and Gaitanos’ willingness to account for it is what makes this book so compelling and profound.’—Giovanni Tiso, ‘How Long Does it Take to Unravel a Life?’ Landfall Review Online, 1 September 2019.

‘a fascinating biography … an important contribution to aspects of New Zealand’s social history in the mid-20th century.’—Simon Nathan, ‘Woman in Law‘, Scoop Review of Books, 24 April, 2019.

‘Very readable … Highly recommended’—Holly Walker, Radio NZ Nine to Noon book review, 27 May 2019.

‘She wanted to be defined by her achievements as a person, not by her gender. Were she alive now, she may be comforted by the knowledge that she is remembered for both.’—Yvonne van Dongen, ‘Examining Shirley Smith, the feminist lawyer married to Soviet spy Bill Sutch’, Sunday,  9 June 2019.

‘However, her greatest disadvantage was that she was a woman. The biography is a detailed and arresting account of how a woman born a hundred years ago had to cope with that handicap.’—Brian Easton, Shirley Smith: In her Own Right, Pundit, 12 June 2019.

‘It’s a book that will be relished by history buffs polsci nerds. But the real beauty in Gaitanos’s biography was the way it acknowledged the grey areas in great people, and the frailness of life with all its contradictions.’—Meg de Ronde, Book of the Week

Interview with Noelle McCarthy, ‘Examining the life of Shirley Smith’,  Saturday Morning with Kim Hill, Radio New Zealand, 8 June 2019.

See also my entry on Shirley Smith for the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography


The Violinist: Clare Galambos Winter, Holocaust Survivor

Victoria University Press, 2011

This book draws on memoir, interviews and historical research to tell a compelling story.

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Crisis: One Central Bank Governor and the Global Financial Collapse

Auckland University Press, 2010, updated edition, September 2012.

From Basel to the Beehive, through rate cuts and conference calls, Crisis is a first-hand account of the global financial and economic meltdown as experienced, observed and interpreted by Alan Bollard, Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.

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Nola Millar: A Theatrical Life

Victoria University Press, 2006

Nola Millar was one of the most important figures in the history of New Zealand theatre. This book tells the full story of the many aspects of Nola Millar’s career and is illuminating about NZ theatre history and the social contexts within which Millar worked.

It is illustrated with over 100 theatre and personal photographs.

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