Helen Watson White
Searching for Charlie: In pursuit of the real Charles Upham VC & Bar by Tom Scott (Upstart Press, 2020) 368pp, $49.99
I have to confess that I wanted to review Searching for Charlie not because of its subject—a war hero both famous and infamous for his unstoppable aggression—but because of its author, Tom Scott, a cartoonist and columnist both famous and infamous for his satirical zeal.
Scott’s urge to make satire is equalled only by his enthusiasm for storytelling. At the end of his engaging and agonising study of his own family life, Drawn Out: A seriously funny memoir, he acknowledges: ‘I am indebted to a legion of editors on the New Zealand Listener, the Evening Post, the Auckland Star and the Dominion Post for giving me the freedom to leave my office desk in pursuit of stories I thought worth telling.’ The Upham story is one of those, and in March 2019 Scott left the Dominion Post altogether to pursue it. The search for ‘the real Charles Upham’, like his pursuit of Sir Edmund Hillary (for a TV series, a book and a documentary), involved extensive travel in New Zealand and overseas. [Read more…]