Author(s): Barry Gustafson
Robert Muldoon was Prime Minister of New Zealand for eight and a half years (1975-1984) and Minister of Finance for fifteen years (1967-72 and 1975-84) during on the the most difficult periods in the country's history. He was the dominant figure in New Zealand's political life over the last half century and one of its most controversial and divisive politicians. This major 'authorised' biography has occupied Professor Gustafson for ten years; it has been extensively researched and long awaited. From the opening chapters with their revealing account of Muldoon's childhood, His Way is gripping reading and will be of wide interest. The chapters on the calling of the 1984 election and on the currency crisis immediately after the election, for example, break new ground. Gustafson's view of Muldoon is fair and tolerant without either anger or sentimentality. It sees him as a champion of ordinary people, a skilled politician determined to preserve the world he had inherited, and an autocratic leader whose vision over time became anachronistic and inflexible. His Way is also, and inevitably, a picture of the changing political landscape from the 1940s to the 1980s, turbulent times very different form the years of depression and war in which Muldoon grew up and which so powerfully shaped his values and perspectives. The book is based on many hours of conversation with Muldoon himself and in interviews with political colleagues, civil servants, family and friends; it is rich with telling detail and revealing anecdote. Gustafson's masterly biography provides for the first time a detached and detailed assessment of an extraordinary political figure.
Winner of ARANZ Ian Wards Prize 2001.