After completing his second term as governor of Tennessee (1978-1986), Alexander spent six months in Australia with his wife and four children. As we see from this journal, the sabbatical proved to be a refreshing, educational adventure for all. Alexander is acutely perceptive and possesses the lively sense of humor essential to a skilled storyteller. Describing the family's experiences with unfamiliar customs and awe-inspiring scenes, he makes each event personal and immediate. He also records thought-provoking conversations with Australians that dramatize differences as well as similarities between the two countries. He notes that his friends Down Under, though sometimes critical of the U.S. (Watergate, the Iran-contra affair), consider Americans more their cousins than the British: during their bicentennial this year, Australians are celebrating the Yanks who saved them in WW II. The book is full of riches, including Alexander's views on conditions in China, Russia and France, countries the family visited on the way home to Nashville. Photos not seen by PW. (September)
This story is rather more about the family and rather less about Australia than the subtitle suggests. At the end of his second term as governor of Tennessee, the author, takes his wife and four children on a six-month vacation to Australia. The exotic locations, which also include Japan, Thailand, China, the U.S.S.R., and Paris, serve as merely background for the author's musings on family life, America, and the world according to Lamar Alexander. Interwoven with these reflections is a detailed and unremarkable account of their itinerary. Although the good humor that permeates the book is appealing, the content is neither insightful nor interesting. Not recommended. Susan M. Unger, Madison P.L., N.J.