Not the first to delve into this complex life, Jim Griffin’s biography is unique for exposing the Archbishop’s human flaws, previously avoided or brushed over by other biographers. Giving Mannix credit for his many achievements, Griffin analyses controversies such as conscription in the Great War, State Aid for Catholic schools and his association with entrepreneur John Wren.
The book also examines Mannix’s fateful connection with B.A.Santamaria, who formed an undercover organisation, The Movement, to fight communism in the unions. This produced damaging splits in the Church, the Labor Party and even families. It contributed to 17 years of government by the Liberal and Country Parties until the resurgence of Labor under Gough Whitlam in 1972.
Beautifully written from an acerbic distance, this biography should appeal to those interested in how this nation was shaped, how its values and institutions were influenced by the life of this extraordinary man whose legacy is described in Paul Ormonde’s concluding chapter.
There have been biographies of Mannix before, but none like this one: comprehensive, penetrating and stylish. At last, a study that this charismatic and polarising figure deserves—illuminated by a mischievous wit that mirrors that of its subject.
Jim Griffin’s lifelong fascination with the enigma of Daniel Mannix has now produced this challenging assessment. Unlike earlier biographers of the great Archbishop of Melbourne, Griffin does not mask Mannix’s human failings nor avoid consideration of his ambiguous involvement in public affairs. Dr Mannix emerges from this book as a unique historical figure, one whose true stature is here given just measurement.
Australian Catholic University
Jim Griffin's long-awaited Mannix circles around his subject as well as journeying with him, as a good biography should. Crisply written and magisterial in tone - with shafts of humour - the book is a major contribution to Australian history and biography. Our greatest and most controversial churchman is made accessible as never before.