This review article discusses four recent books that discuss, amongst other matters, the nature and origins of the Australian Unified National System (UNS) of higher education in the 1980s. The UNS emerged from the Higher Education White Paper released by Minister John Dawkins in 1988 and has remained remarkably stable. The review uses three main lenses to interpret and critique these books: the applicability of a suite of policy models to the processes of emergence and stability in the governance of the Australian higher education and research space; the extent to which the books critically evaluate the successes and failures of the Dawkins’ reforms; and the role of political scientists in the emergence and governance of the UNS, as two of the authors (and practitioners) are well-known political scientists. Overall, the review argues that while deepening our understanding of the roots of the UNS some of the authors of and contributors to these volumes let their admiration for the political and policy skills of the responsible minister, John Dawkins, overshadow a fuller consideration of policy shortcomings and alternative scenarios. Glyn Davis book is an exception to this trend.