The fictional mandarins: new book cuts Canberra close to the bone


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Fact might be better than fiction, but a new political thriller based on Canberra’s mandarin circles cuts close to the bone on how government really works.

The Mandarin Code

The Mandarin Code

A pair of white pillars embossed with the numerals “25” frame a steep driveway, the only markers to inform guests they’ve arrived at the Commonwealth Club. Set on a gentle slope overlooking Canberra’s Lake Burley Griffin, the club is a reminder of an earlier age when the permanent heads who frequented it were the people who really ran the country.

These public service titans — Wilson, Bunting, Wheeler, Tange — are long gone now, but we’ve sought to resurrect them, or their fictional offspring, in our novel, The Mandarin Code.

The second in a trilogy, the novel is anchored in Canberra and tells the tale of a weak Australian government sandwiched between two great powers. China and the United States are jostling for supremacy, edging closer to conflict as they vie to be the dominant power in the Asia Pacific in the 21st century.

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