I should start by saying that I’d be highly interested to read a similar behind-the-scenes expose of the Labour Party, but considering that the mostly likely author is barking mad it’s unlikely to happen any time soon. Instead we get scurrilous and intensely crazy books like Absolute Power.

Being an expose The Hollow Men is a partisan work, and at times leans towards a depiction of information and occurrences deliberately intended to paint the protagonists in a… particular way. There is for instance a very heavy emphasis on characterising the influence of leading businesspeople as ‘conspiratorial’, and it flavours his interpretation of the events he records.

Thing is, separated from the ideology driving the desire to influence politics, it’s hard to consider the actions described as anything other than lobbying. Granted, Hager demonstrates very clearly that what he regards as ‘key figures’ became involved in funding the 2006 election. But what I wonder is whether their influence was any more ‘nefarious’ than the influence of donors to the Labour Party? Labours’ actions to carefully and publicly distance itself from Owen Glenn in 2008, and the controversy of the Pledge Cards in 2006 being indications that political funding is far from cut and dry in New Zealand.

Taking these questions into account, Hager has written a lucid and compelling account of the machinations that occur behind the closed doors of political parties. It is a sterling piece of political journalism, and should be of interest to all politics junkies of all persuasions. Controversy surrounding the source material for the book continues to this day, so I’ll cut this review short.

Recommended.

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