Catch and Kill: The Politics of Power (2015)

Finalist for the 2015 Walkley Book Award

This is the proud story of the eleven years of Steve Bracks, John Brumby, Rob Hulls, John Thwaites and all their team. ... It’s also a deeply personal book. Personal in its substance and its style. The writing is vintage Deane. There are the historical titbits, the footy references, the flavour of country childhood, Fitzroy youth and Catholic upbringing. But above all, there is the wordsmithing I remember from every one of Joel’s drafts. Joel’s prose has always had a kind of Spartan clarity. A relentless, military pursuit of the logic and argument. Every sentence a trim, disciplined, self-sustaining unit. Each one formidable on its own
— BILL SHORTEN
The words ‘sensible’ and ‘poet’ aren’t much heard in the same sentence. But I think Joel’s work as a poet is the work that’s kept him sane. His poetry has given many of us sustenance – and it has leaked through in a sly way into his political speechwriting.
It runs like an artery through this book. And there is another artery. Curiosity. Curiosity about how things work. How power works. How the lives of others are more than equal to our own in the attention they deserve. And curiosity is an endless river
— MICHAEL GURR
Joel Deane writes about politics in the way it should be practised: with a cool head, a warm heart and a sense of humour
— GEORGE MEGALOGENIS
Fascinating. We glimpse a world of ruthless deal and bitter counter allegiance ... A crisp telling that flashes with moments of the poet’s lyricism and insight
— THE AGE / SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
One of the most impressive recent books on the Labor Party ... A delicious expose of the murky deals, the shadow plays and the puppet masters, the sheer cunning involved in gaining power, using it and losing it
— WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN
Deane’s excellent book is a fascinating history of Labor politics in Victoria between the last days of the Cain Government and the 2010 election
— HERALD SUN
[Deane] brilliantly tells a most engaging story with clarity and wit, skilfully taking the reader through the machinations of party politics. This book should be read by anyone with an interest in recent Victorian/Australian political history and more broadly in the nature of power
— HISTORY NEWS
This could be subtitled ‘Bracks and Brumby: the Speechwriter’s Cut’. This is Government seen from the testosterone-rich, obsessive, profane, fiercely loyal, 24/7 world of the political staffer ... Deane captures the mood and motive of their regime with skill and flair, to give us a politically shrewd and lively account of one of the better governments of recent times
— AUSTRALIAN BOOK REVIEW
An enlightening guide to a government’s inner workings ... Deane’s depiction of the state–federal divide, its history and consequences, is particularly acute
— SATURDAY PAPER
Deane is several writers rather than one ... Although it is a must-read for the politically engaged, those who wouldn’t ordinarily go near a political biography will relish its insights into human nature. Deane has created an incisive, well-rounded portrait of powerbrokers, their arts and their craft, which shows us precisely how those who would govern us govern themselves
— INSIDE STORY
This is a sensitive and intelligent reminder of the successes of those Labor years. It’s value lies in its empathy, for those who were there and whose legacy can now seem to have been lost amid Labor’s recent (federal) agonies
— SATURDAY HERALD SUN
The language slips into the occasional profanity, reflecting a realist description of how those in the political class speak to each other. That is what makes this book interesting and valuable. It reveals the inner workings of government such as they are rarely revealed to outsiders ... Deane is fair and even-handed
— NEWS WEEKLY
Joel Deane’s ‘insider’ account of the Bracks–Brumby years in Victoria is ... a fine account of one of the better state governments, told in a jaunty, at times gripping, style rich in personalities and quotations from participants. There are many candid gems
— QUADRANT
Deane ... weaves together dozens of interviews with Party insiders as well as his own experience as a staffer to explore Labor’s run in power and the winner-take-all game that is politics
— THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
If you think politics matters, this is an important book
— ANZ LITLOVERS
An insider’s glance at the Labor Party’s factional war rooms ... Worth a read for anyone interested in [Bill] Shorten and the political climate that created him
— MANLY DAILY
A must for political junkies
— COOMA MONARO EXPRESS