Don Watson began his literary career an academic historian, but soon moved on to political satire and speechwriting. He wrote political satire for the comedian Max Gillies, and then became speechwriter for Prime Minister Paul Keating.
Since 2003 Don has been documenting the viral spread of management-speak and the decline of public language on weaselwords.com.au. He is a regular contributor to Australian public debate, including in The Age and The Monthly.
His published long-form works include:
- Brian Fitzpatrick: A Radical Life (1978)
- Caledonia Australis (1984)
- Story of Australia (1984)
- Rabbit Syndrome: Australia and America (Quarterly Essay #4, 2001), awarded the inaugural Alfred Deakin Prize in the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards
- Recollections of a Bleeding Heart: Paul Keating Prime Minister (2002), awarded The Age Book of the Year and Non-Fiction Prizes, the Brisbane Courier Mail Book of the Year, the National Biography Award and the Australian Literary Studies Association’s Book of the Year
- Death Sentences: How Cliches, Weasel Words and Management-Speak Are Strangling Public Language (2003), awarded the Australian Booksellers Association Book of the Year
- Watson’s Dictionary of Weasel Words: Contemporary Cliches, Cant and Management Jargon (2004)
- American Journeys (2008), awarded The Age Book of the Year and Non-Fiction Book of the Year, the inaugural Indie Award for Non-Fiction and the Walkley Non-Fiction Award
- Bendable Learnings. The Wisdom of Modern Management (2009)
- The Bush: Travels in the Heart of Australia (2014), awarded won the Indie Book of the Year and the NSW Premier’s Literary Award, as well as the Non-Fiction Award in the Queensland Literary Awards and the FAW Non-Fiction Prize
- Worst Words: A compendium of contemporary cant, gibberish and jargon (2015)
- Enemy Within: American Politics in the Time of Trump (Quarterly Essay 63, 2016)
- A Single Tree (2016).
Don has also written feature films, including The Man Who Sued God and Passion. In 2010 Don was awarded the Phillip Hodgins Memorial Medal for Australian Literature.