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 both risen and fallen according to what we've been able to dig from the ground. To describe mining's place in the Australian story, Boom presents not a textbook history, 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 extraordinary 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.
Malcolm Knox is the former literary editor and award-winning cricket writer of the Sydney Morning Herald.