The essayist-politician is a rarity in modern times, though Francois Mitterand, Roy Jenkins, Roy Hattersley, Conor Cruise O'Brien and Vaclav Havel come to mind.
Few, however, have run a government while pondering as deeply and writing as lucidly on life, literature, nature, art and fame as does Bob Carr in this collection of his published and unpublished work.
The pieces in 'Thoughtlines' show the variety and range of his thought. Marcus Aurelius, Margaret Thatcher, Bill Clinton, the beach, the bush, the Olympic Games, the meaning of history, the failure of socialism, heroine, migration, Australian identity are evoked in a way that only a head of government in the thick of the action could do it, in sentences and paragraphs that sometimes reach the eloquence of a Babington Macauley, a Deakin, a Gore Vidal.
In all that he writes of - Australian identity, Aboriginal reconcilliation, the pressure of the past on a society - he shows himself as a man of action and reflection, of eloquence, lucidity and moral courage.