Fortunate Voyager: The Worlds of Ninian Stephen
One life, many roles: soldier, brilliant barrister, High Court judge, Governor-General, Australian diplomat, mediator in Northern Ireland, member of the first war crimes tribunal since Nuremburg and Tokyo, head of UN and Commonwealth missions to crisis zones from Cambodia to Burma to Bangladesh, Sir Ninian Stephen is the recipient of five knighthoods and the most honoured Australian in history - and yet precisely because so much of his work was international it has rarely received the notice it deserves in his home country.
In this, the first whole-of-life biography of the subject, Philip Ayres traces Stephen’s early life in Scotland, England and around continental Europe, from Edinburgh and the Highlands to the spa towns of France and Germany, from the ski runs above Montreux to the Nuremberg Rally of 1938, including the details of his education at outstanding British and Swiss schools and his highly unorthodox “family” life as an only child with an absent father, the details of which, like so much here, have never previously been revealed. All this constitutes the unknown Ninian Stephen, and yet so much else in this book is new: the wartime Stephen, the barrister Stephen, and all the other aspects of his life traced in precise yet dramatic detail in a book whose momentum is generated through unique access to the full resources of the subject’s personal papers.
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