Windsor biography runs out the door

BOOK BLOKE: Tamworth resident and long-time campaign supporter Peter Wakeford was one of the first to buy the new book when it hit shelves yesterday. Photo: Gareth Gardner 150714GGA02

BOOK BLOKE: Tamworth resident and long-time campaign supporter Peter Wakeford was one of the first to buy the new book when it hit shelves yesterday. Photo: Gareth Gardner 150714GGA02

IT MIGHTN'T be their best seller ever but the Tony Windsor biography that went on sale in Tamworth yesterday will be a big local sales success if initial interest is any literary measure.

Book shop owner Jan McManus put out her first order of 85 books onto the shelves at Collins Book Sellers yesterday morning when they arrived in town.

The shop has had solid pre-orders since the biography was publicly announced a month ago and she expects this Windsor book, written by another Tamworthian in Ruth Rae, to be one of the best local books she’s ever stocked.

Within two hours, Tony Windsor The Biography had sold 15 copies. 

And one of the first to buy was one of the men who have stood behind Tony Windsor – politically and personally – for years.

Dr Peter Wakeford, a retired physician awarded an Order of Australia medal in this year’s Australia Day honours list, was one of the first to buy a copy.

A former avowed National Party supporter and booth worker in the days of Noel Park and Ian Sinclair, he jumped into the Windsor camp from the first election campaign in May 1991.

He’s been by his side ever since, patron of his campaigns, listener and bystander through the 22 years Tony Windsor was a political representative first for Tamworth in the state parliament, and then from 2001 in federal politics.

“I’m fascinated by the bits I am reading,” Dr Wakeford said.

“I tend to devour books in a sense and I like reading bits and pieces as I do other things, but the bits I have read don’t digress from the facts. It’s good. It’s well written.”

So far, he’s not been surprised by what he’s read but it’s still engrossing.

“I haven’t read anything I didn’t already know but then again there might be a lot of people who would think it’s hearsay.

“I was listening for a lot of those years but I didn’t really ask for all the info.”

Author Ruth Rae, a doctor of philosophy, historian and researcher, has written a story of Windsor from the cradle – a compelling saga of the personal, political, professional and private. 

Rae says there are 90,000 words in the book of 336 pages. 

She’d originally set aside three years to write it but the sudden decision by Windsor to not contest last year’s ballot for New England catapulted her into a literary fast track. She did it in 16 months – and she’s enjoyed it all.

She’d never met him until a couple of years back. Today, like Dr Wakeford, she regards the Werris Creek farmer as thoroughly likeable, honourable and true to his word, but there’s some wonderful family history that describes his political world too.

Windsor lovers and Windsor haters should also find some fascinating background, not least the events around the 2010 election. 

Today, years on from the stoush and the storm over the hung parliament that saw Tony Windsor elevated to broker and political power player, Dr Wakeford still cannot forgive or forget the viciousness of the criticism from scores of people, many of them from outside the electorate, and the lashings Windsor’s family and electorate staff had to endure.

“I think history will judge Tony Windsor much kinder than a lot of people think,” he said.

“This was a very interesting period in politics. It ranks with the Whitlam ‘It’s Time’ period.”

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