Author(s): PEOPLES KEVIN
This new book featuring BA Santamaria is the first to draw on primary resource material from the Santamaria files held by the State Library of Victoria since the publication of the Santamaria documents edited by Patrick Morgan. Unlike most books on Santamaria, which focus on his involvement in the Labor Movement, this one analyses his leadership of the often mentioned but little understood National Catholic Rural Movement (NCRM). Author Kevin Peoples was an organiser for the NCRM from 1959 to 1961. Within the narrative frame of his own involvement, the author shows how Santamaria's charisma and authoritarian character continuously subverted the NCRM's aims as an official form of Catholic Action, to follow his own impractical vision for Australia as an agrarian society. After the attack on Santamaria's industrial movement by the leader of the ALP, Dr HV Evatt in October 1954, Santamaria controversially pressed the NCRM into acting as his anti-communist arm in rural Australia. The drama in this new memoir highlights the clash between Santamaria and the then Father John N Molony, now emeritus Professor of History at the Australian National University, at the La Verna Monastery, Melbourne in 1961, when Molony attempted to wrest control of the NCRM from Santamaria.