Hugh Mackay - Books

AUSTRALIA REIMAGINED

'When it comes to our future, misplaced optimism is as dangerous as blind faith. What is needed is the courage to face the way things are, and the wisdom and imagination to work out how to make things better.'

Australia's unprecedented run of economic growth has failed to deliver a more stable or harmonious society. Individualism is rampant. Income inequality is growing. Public education is under-resourced. The gender revolution is stalling. We no longer trust our major institutions or our political leaders. We are more socially fragmented, more anxious, more depressed, more overweight, more medicated, deeper in debt and increasingly addicted - whether to our digital devices, drugs, pornography or 'stuff'.

Yet esteemed social researcher Hugh Mackay remains optimistic. Twenty-five years ago, he revolutionised Australian social analysis with the publication of Reinventing Australia. Now he takes another unflinching look at us and offers some compelling proposals for a more compassionate and socially cohesive Australia. You might not agree with everything he suggests, but you'll find it hard to get some of his ideas out of your head.

This book is essential reading for everyone who loves Australia enough to want to make it a better place for us all.


What Makes Us Tick

Hugh Mackay has spent a lifetime listening to people talk about their dreams, fears, hopes, disappointments and passions. As well, his bestselling books have documented the impact of the changes that have been radically reshaping our society. In What Makes Us Tick he reflects on some of the things that don't change, identifies ten desires that drive us all, and asks:

  • Why do we talk as if we're rational, but act as if we're not?
  • Why do some people always want to take control?
  • Why do we seek change, yet resist it?
  • Why do we want more of the things that have failed to satisfy us?

His exploration of these and other issues goes to the heart of some of life's big questions.

This third edition includes a new Prologue, 'Being Human', in which Mackay identifies six characteristics of our species that he believes make us distinctively human.

Industry Reviews

Hugh Mackay is one of this country s most perceptive social commentators. - Sydney Morning Herald

Illuminator of other people s views ... a reporter of voices. Mackay ... is something of a national treasure. - Canberra Times


Right & Wrong

At a time when many of us are struggling to navigate an ever more complex world, this new edition of Right & Wrong offers you the essential tools to make confident moral decisions and includes a new prologue.

How can you be sure you're doing the right thing? Can some actions be legally right, yet morally wrong? What are the rights and wrongs of leaving a relationship? Are the rules different for sex? Is it always wrong to tell a lie? Why be good?

No one pretends that making moral choices is easy. In this updated edition, which includes a new prologue on the moral minefields of power and wealth, Hugh Mackay argues that because morality is all about the way we treat each other, we make our best decisions - at work, among friends, in the neighbourhood, in a marriage or a family - when we imagine how our actions might affect the wellbeing of others. Our moral choices actually help shape the kind of society we live in, for better or worse.

At a time when many of us are struggling to navigate an ever more complex world, Right & Wrong offers you the essential tools for making confident moral choices, and for deciding what's right for you and for the people around you.


The Good Life

"No one can promise you that a life lived for others will bring you a deep sense of satisfaction, but it's certain that nothing else will."

Hugh Mackay has spent his entire working life asking Australians about their values, motivations, ambitions, hopes and fears. Now, in The Good Life, he addresses the ultimate question: What makes a life worth living?

His conclusion is provocative. The good life is not the sum of our security, wealth, status, postcode, career success and levels of happiness. The good life is one defined by our capacity for selflessness, the quality of our relationships and our willingness to connect with others in a useful way.

Mackay examines what is known as the Golden Rule through the prisms of religion, philosophy, politics, business and family life. And he explores the numerous and often painful ways we distract ourselves from this central principle: our pursuit of pleasure, our attempts to perfect ourselves and our children, and our conviction that we can have our lives under control.

Argued with all the passion and intelligence we have come to expect from one of Australia's most prolific and insightful authors, The Good Life is a book that will start conversations, ignite arguments and possibly even change the way we live our lives.



The Art of Belonging

The eternal question 'Who am I?' must be weighed against an even deeper question: 'Who are we?' We are writing each other's stories as much as we are writing our own.

In his bestselling book, The Good Life, Hugh Mackay argued that kindness and respect for others are the hallmarks of a life well lived. Now in The Art of Belonging Mackay shows how strong communities develop our moral sense and build our emotional security. He says that as 'social creatures' we can only reach our potential when we engage with our communities - in the local neighbourhood, at work and even online.

Drawing on his lifelong work as a social researcher, Mackay creates a fictional suburb, Southwood, and populates it with characters who, like most of us, struggle to reconcile their need to belong with their desire to live life on their own terms. Through a series of stories, illuminated by Mackay's social analysis, we witness the conflicts that arise when individuals assert their needs at the expense of others, but we also glimpse the satisfactions that flow from contributing to the common good.

Compellingly argued and written with wisdom, compassion and wit, The Art of Belonging is for those who yearn for a society that sustains and nurtures the many, not just the fortunate few.



Beyond Belief

What do people actually mean when they say 'God'?

Around two-thirds of us say we believe in God or some 'higher power', but fewer than one in ten Australians attend church weekly. In Beyond Belief, Hugh Mackay presents this discrepancy as one of the great unexamined topics of our time. He argues that while our attachment to a traditional idea of God may be waning, our desire for a life of meaning remains as strong as ever.

Mackay interviews dozens of Australians representing many different points on the spectrum of faith, including some who are part of the emerging 'spiritual but not religious' movement. He exposes the deep vein of ambivalence about religion that runs through our society: we may not actively worship, but we still like to see local churches operating in our midst, and we use 'our' church to marry, christen our babies, educate our children and commemorate our dead. He points out some uncomfortable truths, such as our tendency to call on God only in a crisis, and unpacks our human need for 'answers', even when science can't find them. He endorses the Christian ideal of the good life - a life lived for others - but acknowledges that there are many pathways to that same goal, not all of them religious.

Written with all the insight and compassion we have come to expect of our leading chronicler of Australian life, Beyond Belief is an engrossing exploration of the ways we find spiritual fulfilment in an avowedly secular age.



Why Don't People Listen?

First published in 1994, Hugh Mackay's Why Don't People Listen? sold 40,000 copies and became a classic on the art of successful communication.

This ebook-only edition has been fully revised and updated to include a summary of the benefits and pitfalls of multi-media communication.

Hugh Mackay shows us a simple yet revolutionary way to improve the quality of our relationships with our partners, children, friends, colleagues and clients. He identifies the ten most basic laws of human communication, such as: It's not what our message does to the listener, but what the listener does with our message that determines our success as communicators.

Accessible and instructive, Why Don't People Listen? is a complete guide to improving connections, enriching relationships and resolving conflict.



Infidelity

The hardest thing, finally, is to accept our insignificance in the scheme of things - or perhaps to accept that there is no 'scheme of things'.

Tom Harper, a 43-year-old Australian psychologist, is in self-imposed exile in London, living down a sexual indiscretion with a client. Through a chance meeting at the Royal Academy, he makes friends with Sarah Delacour, an academic who studies nursery rhymes. Sarah is beautiful, charming and smart, but she is morally trapped - and perhaps corrupted - by decisions she has made in the past.

As Tom and Sarah's relationship evolves, many layers of infidelity emerge. Tom falls deeply in love and waits for Sarah to reciprocate. But while Sarah is brilliant at playing the role of a woman in love, Tom fears her ultimate commitment may be to securing a life of luxury.

Through his fiction and non-fiction, Hugh Mackay has developed a reputation as an acute and compassionate observer of the human condition, with all its shades of light and dark. In this beautifully written tale of love and the desire for control, he explores one of life's most troubling questions: do our circumstances justify or merely explain our behaviour?



Selling the Dream

"If someone asked me who should write a satirical novel about the advertising business - someone with inside knowledge who could write well and was extremely clever and amusing - I'd say, 'See if Hugh Mackay is available.'" John Clarke

Lincoln The Hunter is living the dream. Universally admired and terrifically charming, he has a formidable reputation in the world of advertising, and is the jewel in the crown of agency KK&C.

When Linc is handed the reins of the high-budget, high-profile campaign for the groundbreaking new snack 'The Ripper', he knows it's his chance to leverage his way to greater success and greener, more glamourous pastures. No matter that it will leave KK&C floundering in his wake ...

Ruthless in his pursuit of professional success, it doesn't occur to Linc that he himself might be the pawn in this great game of advertising, where no method - be it a calculated office affair or 'disruptive skydiving' - is off limits to aid in selling the dream.

In this laugh-out-loud funny and frighteningly believable satire, Hugh Mackay lays bare the machinations of this multi-million-dollar industry, and leaves you wondering just where the line between parody and reality falls.