In early 1965 at age thirteen, Mark Aarons came under the ‘adverse notice’ of ASIO, which opened volume one of his nine-volume security file. Mark was following in the footsteps of his father, Laurie Aarons, whose 85-volume file commenced in the early 1930s when he was fourteen.
For four generations the Aarons family were ‘subversive revolutionaries’, avowed communists who challenged the established constitutional order.
Having obtained access to his family’s ASIO files – the largest collection in the nation’s history – Mark Aarons combines their meticulous chronicles with his family’s own accounts to tell a political tale of revolution and dissent, idealism and intrigue. It is also an intimate story of life under surveillance, a reflection on communism and its legacy, and on what it was to be a radical in Australia in eventful times.
“The Family File is a fascinating tale of love and passion, courage and perfidy, ambition and progressive politics, told against a background of world and national events. There are lots of surprises, including the discovery of an unexpected supporter amongst Australian spy-catchers and a near-death confession of human love with the admission that much of the struggle involved the ‘self-delusion of revolutionary heroism’. For every page that discloses the autocratic rule of Moscow and the despotism of its minions, there are many more stories of progressive politics in Australia: workers’ rights, anti-apartheid, indigenous entitlements, feminism, opposition to the Vietnam War, green bans, East Timor independence, and Australian nationalism.”
—The Hon. Michael Kirby, Past Justice of the High Court of Australia