Book Review: The Wisdom of Oz includes funny observations by those true blue wizards of Oz

Australians let us all rejoice for we are a nation full of self-deprecating individuals with a great wit and a keen sense of humour. Never has this been more apparent than in the book, The Wisdom of Oz. This should be required reading for every true blue Aussie (forget the citizenship test) because it’s chock full of excellent pearls of wisdom and pithy comments that encapsulate the profound, the peppery and the profane. It’s the kind of thing that will leave you proud to call Australia home, let’s raise our beers and celebrate.

This little book of clever word play, cheeky asides and amusing anecdotes avoids individuals that are too self-serving, self-righteous and prolix. That leaves out a lot of politicians who are just after brownie points and looking to jump onto the most popular bandwagon at any given moment. There is also no earnestness here, it’s just people telling it like it is and all too often this is while possessing that great, Australian larrikin spirit that doesn’t sugar-coat or obfuscate.

Some of the best quotes here include some famous ones like former Prime Minister Bob Hawke’s declaration after our 1983 America’s Cup victory that “Any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum.” We also have Barry Humphries of Dame Edna fame summing up the cultural cringe so beautifully with: “To live in Australia permanently is rather like going to a party and dancing all night with your mother.”

There are also some quotes that are quite informative and make us stop and think like Lieutenant General David Morrison who notes that, “The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.” Others leave you wondering what to think, like former Prime Minister Harold Holt’s famous last words prior to his disappearance: “I know this beach like the back of my hand.”

American cartoonist Charles M. Schultz makes an interesting addition and captures some of our nation’s optimism with, “Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.” There are other quotes that are all about cutting people down to size when it’s appropriate- like former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard’s powerful 2012 misogyny speech to then opposition leader, Tony Abbott: “I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. I will not… Not now, not ever.”

One thing that links all of these disparate quotes together is that they are important and worthy of being immortalised in one handy collection and shared by others. The Wisdom of Oz includes some fine kernels of truth peppered with our culture’s unique form of wit. These were uttered by some of our most famous celebrities including: politicians, sports people, businessmen, entertainers and more. The end result is a funny, insightful and worthwhile discussion by some of those true blue wizards of Oz.

The Wisdom of Oz is now available through Black Inc. books


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