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Mansell, Ken
A Critical Review
Description of Work
Review of Michael Hyde, All Along the Watchtower: Memoir of a Sixties Revolutionary, The Vulgar Press, Melbourne, 2010. pp. 274. $32.95 paper.
2011, p. 20

"All Along the Watchtower is an autobiographical memoir covering four years in the life of ‘sixties revolutionary’ Mike Hyde. The story begins early in 1967 with Hyde’s arrival at Melbourne’s Monash University after a period studying in California, and traces a roughly chronological path to 1971.

"Michael Hyde is to be congratulated for writing this memoir. He is one of very few former ‘sixties’ activists who have done so. I set out to write a history of the ‘sixties’ a considerable time ago. I have pored over thousands of documents and conducted over one hundred (oral history) interviews. My labours continue and I have yet to complete this project. Hyde has completed his story and he deserves enormous credit.

"I have responded to his book as an historian. I am not a literary critic or an expert on memoirs. Memoirs are not the same as histories, but they are a form of non-fictional historical writing. A memoir is the author’s perspective and memories of events. It is perfectly permissible for a memoir to be heavy on perspective and not balanced or multi-perspective as might be expected from an historical study. But a memoir is not a novel. A novel masquerading as a memoir would raise some serious issues. Memoirs and histories share many of the same rules of engagement, particularly the strict injunction to not make up historical facts. Precisely because so little has been written about the ‘sixties’ from the perspective of those who were involved in the Australian left, it is important to be as historically accurate as possible. It is this position that underpins the critique that follows." [From introduction]

Contents include: "Introduction"; "Fact and Fiction"; "Chronology"; "Aid to the NLF - made up and mixed up"; "Peter Price"; "Memoir or novel?"; "Conclusion".