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Boom: The Underground History of Australia, from Gold Rush to GFC

by Malcolm Knox

Mining divides the country – development against conservation, north and west against south and east, pro-tax against anti-tax. It’s an important industry, but why do passions run so high? What does mining really mean to us? And how much do we understand about our underground history?

Although we favour the romantic vision of Australia riding to prosperity on the sheep’s back, in reality we have always owed as much to the shovel. The gold rush kick-started the nation, populating our cities and building our regional centres, and our fortunes have since risen and fallen according to what we’ve been able to dig from the ground.

Boom is not a textbook history of Australian mining, but a narrative of the people behind the facts and figures, from the eccentric loners who staked the first claims to the emergence of the modern mega-magnates. It takes us deep underground with men working in mortal danger by  candlelight, and on the extraordinary journey 25,000 tonnes of the raw Australian landscape makes from the Pilbara to Shanghai.

Boom reveals the history of mining as the Australian story, for better or worse. Insightful, compellingly readable and full of extraordinary characters, it shows how mining and miners have shaped our history and gripped our imagination through boom and bust.

 ‘A shrewd and captivating work of history’ Weekend Australian

‘Knox asks questions on awkward topics and sieves a lot of history in the attempt to provide answers. Even those who disagree with some or many of his conclusions, must concede that he vigorously stirs a pot that is crucial’ Geoffrey Blainey, The Sydney Morning Herald

‘A must read for understanding the DNA of the nation’ Charter

‘Eye-opening detail . . . Knox demonstrates a skilful ability to weave together detail, history and narrative, upholding his reputation as a masterful storyteller’ Readings


21 August, 2013

About Malcolm Knox

Malcolm Knox is the former literary editor and award-winning cricket writer of the Sydney Morning Herald (where he broke the Norma Khouri story, for which he won one of his two Walkley Awards). His novels include The Life and the Ned Kelly Award-winning A Private Man, and his many non-fiction titles include The Greatest and The Captains.


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