Don Watson's Recollections of a Bleeding Heart: Paul Keating Prime Minister, won the Age Book of the Year and Non-Fiction Prizes, the Brisbane Courier Mail Book of the Year, the National Biography Award and the Australian Literary Studies Association's Book of the Year. His Quarterly Essay, Rabbit Syndrome: Australia and America won the Alfred Deakin Essay Prize. Death Sentence, his best-selling book about the decay of public language won the Australian Booksellers Association Book of the Year 2003. Watson's Dictionary of Weasel Words, another best-seller, was published in 2004. His most recent book American Journeys won the Age Non-Fiction and Book of the Year Awards in 2008. It also won the inaugural Indie Award for Non-Fiction and has been shortlisted for the Walkley Award for Non-Fiction.
American Journeys is not only a thoroughly enjoyable travel narrative, but more ambitiously a kind of 21st-century postscript to Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America, first published in 1831. Like the French philosopher over 170 years earlier, Don Watson spent months travelling around America, observing not only the country but examining its beliefs and values. In common with fellow travel writer Paul Theroux, Watson prefers train travel where you can simultaneously watch the landscape and listen to its inhabitants. Watson is an acute observer, highly critical, often very funny and always prepared to accept, if not understand, the contradictions of everyday America. He wisely avoids soft targets, preferring to castigate big business-particularly the media-rather than the hapless George Bush. The highlight comes early in the book when he witnesses New Orleans shortly after hurricane Katrina and casually notes that corporate America (Wal-mart, McDonald's et al) had cleaned up faster than the government agencies. This is a thought-provoking book sure to infuriate neo-conservatives, give academics plenty to chew over, and yet entertain and amuse the general reader. Uncomfortable yet stimulating armchair travel, and also thoroughly deserving shelf space in current affairs. Graeme Moore is a freelance writer and online bookseller
"Profound and deeply personal . . . makes for itself a place in the great tradition of American journeys." --Australian Book Review