Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Thursday, March 30, 2017
Rule of Law: a novel, and The Politics of Decency
Winton Higgins will be visiting Wellington from Sydney
from 23 April to 30 April 2017 for a series of events around his recently
published novel, Rule of Law (Brandl & Schlesinger, 2016). While in
Wellington, he will also be speaking on ‘The Politics of Decency’ at St Andrew’s
on The Terrace, giving a talk to the city’s secular Buddhist community, and
running a daylong workshop.
On Wednesday 26 April, Winton will be in conversation
with Sir Anand Satyanand about Rule of Law at Unity Books in Willis St
from 12 noon to 12:45pm. Sir Anand Satyanand GNZM QSO KStJ is a former lawyer,
judge and ombudsman. He was the 19th Governor-General of New Zealand and is
Chair of the Commonwealth Foundation.
On Thursday 27 April, Winton will give a talk titled ‘The
Politics of Decency’ at St Andrew’s on The Terrace. The event runs from 12:30pm
to 2pm, and is a collaboration between St Andrew’s Trust for the Study of
Religion and Society and One Mindful Breath, Wellington’s secular Buddhist
In addition, Winton will give a talk to One Mindful
Breath at 7:30pm on Wednesday 24 April at the Quaker Centre in Moncrieff St, Mt
Victoria, and run an all-day secular Buddhist workshop on Saturday 29 April at
the Home of Compassion in Island Bay.
About Rule of Law
In the midst of World War II, the Allies promised to
punish prominent German perpetrators of atrocities at war’s end. When the war
was at last ending, the Allies had to agree on how to honour this promise.
Summary executions by firing squad beckoned as the expedient way to do this.
But the US war secretary, Henry Stimson, dissented: he agitated for a public
trial before an international tribunal, one following due process and conducted
in four languages. He wanted this trial to found an international rule of law
that would represent a giant leap forward by outlawing aggressive war and
crimes against humanity.
Stimson prevailed. His victory unleashed an
unprecedented human drama in the bomb-ravaged city of Nuremberg – a drama
played out in the glare of international publicity, one involving thousands of
participants, many of whom were as war-damaged as the city in which they had to
play their parts. The novel follows four of these participants as they face the
challenges of the pioneering trial, the daily struggles of life in a shattered
city haunted by its immediate Nazi past, and the urgent demands of their
‘A fascinating novel that captures the drama of history’s
most important trial, which laid the foundation for international criminal law.
This gripping account uses fiction to bring to life the personalities,
principles and philosophies that contributed to the delivery of justice at
– Geoffrey Robertson QC
‘This is a gripping story of one of the great moments
in history. When the victorious Allies of the Second World War decided to put
the tyrants of the Nazi regime on public trial for crimes against humanity, the
symbolism was electric. The drama was overwhelming. The emotions wretched. And
it had to be worked out in conditions of bombed out devastation and with no
effective precedents. Across the pages walk historical characters, some of them
familiar. But interwoven with their lives are human tales of great power, added
by the author to remind us that this was a raw human drama. Once started, I
could not put this book down.’
– Hon Michael Kirby, past justice of the High
Court of Australia and chair of the UN commission of inquiry on North Korea
Winton Higgins was born in Sydney in November 1941.
After surviving the Japanese midget submarine attack on Sydney Harbour of 31
May 1942, he grew up on a sheep and cattle station in central Australia, 55km
outside Walgett, NSW, in Tennant Creek, and back in Sydney. He graduated in
arts and law from Sydney University and practised at the Bar for three years
until 1969 when he moved to Europe, where he gained postgraduate qualifications
in social science at the universities of Stockholm and London (LSE).
He did research and taught in Adelaide 1972–5, before
his appointment as a lecturer in politics at Macquarie University, Sydney. He
left this institution in 2000 as an associate professor. Since then he has been
an associate in international studies at the University of Technology Sydney,
while also engaging in creative writing. Winton won the NSW Writers’ Centre’s short short story competition
Winton has cultivated a wide range of interests in his
intellectual life, and three of them have come to dominate: social-democratic
theory and practice, especially under the aegis of the Swedish experience 1928–76;
genocide studies, with special reference to the Holocaust; and standardisation.
He has been a board member of the Australian Institute of Holocaust and
Genocide Studies since its inception in 2000. Winton also teaches an annual
course at the Aquinas Academy on various ethical, social and political topics.
Since 1987, Winton has been a Buddhist practitioner,
and a teacher of insight meditation since 1995. He has contributed to the
development of a secular Buddhism internationally and is a senior teacher for
Sydney Insight Meditators and Secular Buddhism in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Winton’s meditation teaching has developed towards
non-formulaic insight practice based on the Buddha’s original teachings, while
his dharmic orientation inclines towards a secular Buddhism. He fosters interest
in the original teachings and their affinity with modern streams of thought and
progressive social commitments. He and his partner Lena live in Sydney and have
2 daughters and 2 grandchildren. His website is at wintonhiggins.org, and much
of his dharma writing can be found at secularbuddhism.org.nz/resources/documents/#wh.