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Colin Mann, “Bookworms seek solace after being marooned by pirates,”
The Canberra Times, January 15, 1984, p. 7.

I once encountered the concept in Esquire magazine, when that publication has contributors such as Hemingway, and for its drawn illustrations was considered a bit risqué. That must have been a very, very long while ago.

There must have been some new things under the sun since then. Hiroshima. The silicon chip. Martin Luther King. Colonel Sanders, even. So many things that people’s thinking might have changed. Old things have gone, too, Esquire itself among them.

It would seem fair enough then to pose the question again.

So, after colouring-in the setting a bit, this is the proposition: suppose you found yourself about to be marooned on some far-away uninhabited island. The pirates, who are doing this to you, are a kindly lot at heart. They know it is a nice island, suited to nice folk like yourself, and that it has everything you will need to survive indefinitely. Also, it happens to be a magic island. Truly.

They Sydney rock oysters which jostle for space along the shores (should you fancy them) are self-opening. No call to jab yourself with an oyster knife.

Though you will never actually see them to have a yarn, the spirits of the people who once lived there are all excellent chefs. Your table will carry any food you happen to desire.

The island is unique in that one small hillock, but a stone’s throw from your residence (with en-suites) has five running springs — one of cool, fresh water, one with soft drinks, one with Fosters, and one each of quite palatable red and white, both with a remarkably clean finish. There are no nasty insects, no dangerous creatures on the island.

It is possible that in about one month flat you will be bored stiff.

But the pirates have thought of that, too. You see, their vessel is also unique. It carries the definitive library. Every book ever written.

Before they gently row you ashore, the pirates say to you, “You may take three books with you to read while you are on the island, forever. Any three books you fancy. Oh yes — where an author has been very prolific, we have his complete works in one volume, so that only counts as one book. The same applies to sets of reference books. The set only contains one book.”

What three books would you choose?

I sent the question, in those terms, to a number of well-known people, inviting them also to add a comment to their choice, should they wish. Their answers, in the random fashion our postie brought them back, follow:

[…]

Mining magnate Mr Lang Hancock: Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith; The Time For Truth and sequel A Time For Action by William E. Simon; Progress and Poverty by Henry George.

[…]

(in order of appearance on Economics.org.au)
  1. Ron Manners’ Heroic Misadventures
  2. Hancock's Australia
  3. Hancock on Government Help
  4. Wake Up Australia: Excerpts Part 1
  5. Wake Up Australia: Excerpts Part 2
  6. Lang Hancock's Five Point Plan to Cripple Australia
  7. Governments Consume Wealth — They Don't Create It
  8. Up the Workers! Bob Howard's 1979 Workers Party Reflection in Playboy
  9. Jump on the Joh bandwagon
  10. John Singleton and Bob Howard 1975 Monday Conference TV Interview on the Workers Party
  11. Governments — like a red rag to a Rogue Bull
  12. Lang Hancock's Pilbara-Queensland Railway Proposal
  13. Singo, Howard and Hancock Want to Secede
  14. Lang Hancock's Foreword to Rip Van Australia
  15. New party will not tolerate bludgers: Radical party against welfare state
  16. Small and Big Business Should Oppose Government, says Lang Hancock
  17. A Condensed Case for Secession
  18. Hancock gets tough over uranium mining
  19. Hancock's threat to secede and faith in Whitlam
  20. PM's sky-high promise to Lang
  21. Govt "villain" in eyes of new party
  22. The spread of Canberra-ism
  23. Govt should sell the ABC, says Lang Hancock
  24. 1971 Monday Conference transcript featuring Lang Hancock
  25. Aborigines, Bjelke and the freedom of the press
  26. The code of Lang Hancock
  27. Why not starve the taxation monster?
  28. Lang Hancock 1978 George Negus Interview
  29. Party Promises to Abolish Tax
  30. Right-wing plot
  31. "The best way to help the poor is not to become one of them." - Lang Hancock
  32. WA's NCP commits suicide
  33. "You can't live off a sacred site"
  34. Hancock: King of the Pilbara
  35. Bludgers need not apply
  36. New party formed "to slash controls"
  37. Workers Party Reunion Intro
  38. Workers Party is born as foe of government
  39. Government seen by new party as evil
  40. Ron Manners on Lang Hancock
  41. Does Canberra leave us any alternative to secession?
  42. Bury Hancock Week
  43. Ron Manners on the Workers Party
  44. Lang Hancock on Australia Today
  45. Hancock and Wright
  46. Lang Hancock on Environmentalists
  47. Friends of free enterprise treated to financial tete-a-tete: Lang does the talking but Gina pulls the strings
  48. Lang Hancock, Stump Jumper
  49. Lang Hancock: giant of the western iron age
  50. The Treasury needs a hatchet man
  51. We Mine to Live
  52. Get the "econuts" off our backs
  53. 1971 Lang Hancock-Jonathan Aitken interview for Land of Fortune (short)
  54. Gina Rinehart, Secessionist
  55. 1982 NYT Lang Hancock profile
  56. Enter Rio Tinto
  57. Hamersley and Tom Price
  58. News in the West
  59. Positive review of Hancock speech
  60. Lang Hancock International Press Institute General Assembly speech, Canberra, 1978
  61. Australia's slide to socialism
  62. The Great Claim Robbery
  63. Why WA must go it alone
  64. Lang Hancock in 1976 on Public Picnics and Human Blights
  65. MILLIONAIRE PUTS MONEY BEHIND SECESSIONISTS
  66. Resource Management in Australia: Is it possible?
  67. The gospel of WA secession according to Lang Hancock
  68. Crystal Balls Need Polishing
  69. Minerals - politicians' playthings?
  70. John Singleton-Ita Buttrose interview (1977)
  71. Boston Tea Party 1986 style, hosted by Lang Hancock and Bob Ansett
  72. Singo says Lang Hancock violated Australia's 11th commandment: Thou Shalt Not Succeed
  73. Singleton: the White Knight of Ockerdom
  74. Tactics change by Hancock
  75. Lang Hancock complains to Margaret Thatcher about Malcolm Fraser
  76. 'Phony crisis' seen as 'child of politics'
  77. Lang Hancock on nuclear energy
  78. Lang Hancock beats the left at their own game on civil liberties
  79. Lang Hancock's Favourite Books
  80. 1977 Lang Hancock Canberoo poem
  81. Hancock's playing very hard to get
  82. Hancock proposes a free-trade zone
  83. An Open Letter to Sir Charles Court
  84. John Singleton 1976 ocker Monday Conference Max Harris debate
  85. Lang Hancock in 1984 solves Australian politics
  86. Lang Hancock on the Workers Party, secession and States Rights
  87. Lang Hancock asks what happened to Australia's rugged individualism?
  88. Precis of Ludwig Plan for North-West
  89. Announcement that Lang Hancock will be guest of honour at the Workers Party launch
  90. Lang Hancock's March 1983 attempt to enlist "former presidents of nations and heads of giant companies" to save Australia
  91. Lang Hancock asks us to think how easily environmentalists are manipulated for political purposes
  92. Invest in free enterprise
  93. Democracy is dead in Australia and Lang Hancock's education
  94. Lang Hancock Incites Civil Disobedience
  95. Hancock sounds call to battle Canberra
  96. Mining policy a threat
  97. Over Whitlam's head
  98. Lang Hancock suggests that newspapers don't give space to politicians unconditionally
  99. Lang Hancock on saving Australia from socialism
  100. Secede or sink
  101. Australia can learn from Thatcher
  102. John Singleton. Horseracing. Why?
  103. How Lang Hancock would fix the economy
  104. Lang Hancock: victim of retrospective legislation
  105. Lang Hancock supports Joh for PM
  106. Hancock seeks miners' tax haven in the north
  107. The Ord River Dam
  108. Why Lang Hancock invested in Australia's film industry
  109. Lang Hancock's 1983 letters to The Australian: Lang's precedent for Steve Jobs, renaming the Lucky Country to the Constipated Country, and more
  110. Australia's biggest newspaper insider on manipulating the media
  111. 1980 Lang Hancock-Australian Penthouse Interview
  112. Canberra: bastion of bureaucracy
  113. Pilbara can be the Ruhr for South-East Asia
  114. 1982 Lang Hancock-John Harper Nelson Interview
  115. Australian elections are one of the greatest con games in history
  116. Our leaders are powerless
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