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Don Watson: The Passion of Private White


Acclaimed writer Don Watson arrives at the Wheeler Centre to discuss his latest work of non-fiction, The Passion of Private White, which explores historical trauma, survival and our shared humanity.


Don Watson’s bestselling titles include Recollections of a Bleeding Heart: A Portrait of Paul Keating PM, Death Sentence and The Bush. An accomplished author, speechwriter and screenwriter, he is one of Australia’s most beloved intellectual giants.

Now Watson returns with The Passion of Private White, a book fifty years in the making, offering a complex portrait of anthropologist Neville White and his relationship with the Yolngu clans at Donydji in north-east Arnhem Land.

Over five decades, White mapped the culture and history of the Yolngu people. But eventually, presence meant involvement. As White became an advocate against the outside forces that threatened the clan, the community at Donydji began to interact with White’s old platoon of soldiers suffering psychic wounds from the Vietnam War.

For this Melbourne City Reads event, Watson joins host Sally Warhaft to discuss his own fifty-year relationship with Neville White and the process of crafting The Passion of Private White, an intricate study of colonisation, suffering, resilience and humanity.

The Melbourne City Reads series is generously supported by George and Rosa Morstyn.


You have the option to pay what you can for this for this event. As a guide, the suggested price is $15, although any amount will help cover our costs and keep these events accessible. Bookings are essential.


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About the book

The bookseller for this event is Hill of Content Bookshop.

Melbourne City Reads

Celebrate local literary culture and the authors who shape it. Rediscover the world through writers’ eyes at monthly events, featuring authors discussing their new books.

The Melbourne City Reads series is generously supported by George and Rosa Morstyn.
Melbourne City Reads


Don Watson

Don Watson’s bestselling titles include Recollections of a Bleeding Heart: Paul Keating Prime Minister, Death Sentence and The Bush, which won the Indie Book of the Year and the NSW Premier’s Literary Award. An acclaimed speechwriter and screenwriter, he is also beloved for his colum... Read more

Sally Warhaft

Sally Warhaft is a Melbourne broadcaster, anthropologist and writer. She is the host of The Fifth Estate, the Wheeler Centre’s live series focusing on journalism, politics, media, and international relations, and The Leap Year, a Wheeler Centre podcast about Australians’ lives in the fog of ... Read more


The Wheeler Centre

176 Little Lonsdale Street Melbourne Victoria 3000

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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the traditional owners of the land on which we work. We pay our respects to the people of the Kulin Nation and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, past and present.