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Leviathan: The unauthorised biography of Sydney Paperback – 2000
'To peer deeply into this ghost city, the one lying beneath the surface, is to understand that Sydney has a soul and that it is a very dark place indeed.'Beneath the shining harbour, amid the towers of global greed and deep inside the bad-drugs madness of the suburban wastelands, lies Sydney's shadow history. Terrifying tsunamis, corpse-robbing morgue staff, killer cops, neo-Nazis, power junkies and bumbling SWOS teams electrify this epic tale of a city with a cold vacuum for a moral core.Birmingham drills beneath the cover story of a successful multicultural metropolis and melts the boundaries between past and present to reveal a ghost city beneath the surface of concrete and glass. In Birmingham's alternative history of Sydney, the yawning chasm between the megarich and the lumpen masses is as evident in the insane wealth of the new elites as it was in the head-spinning rapacity of the NSW Rum Corps. This is a city shattered by the nexus between government, big money and the underworld, where the glittering prizes go to the strong, not the just.Combining intensive research with the pace of a techno-thriller, John Birmingham creates a rich portrait of a city too dazzled by its own gorgeous reflection to caremuch for what lies at its dark, corrupted heart. Illuminated by wild flashes of black humour, violent, ghoulish and utterly compelling, Leviathan is history for the Tarantino generation.
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Top customer reviews
I would read anything JB writes. I even bought his how to be a writer book because he inspired even someone as ungifted as myself to at least attempt to put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard. A futile effort but what the hell. Crack a beer, go sit out on the deck, read his books. Imagine you are on his hovercraft with him.
I suspect that you're not going to get too much out of this book without having lived in Sydney for at least six months -- much of it, I think, depends on having visited and seen the suburbs, streets and sights, because the author uses the present city to explain its past.
My only complaint about the book is its "non-linear" structure. The book is a great and fun introduction to the city's history (emphasizing its murky past) but I did find myself wishing for more structure and detail. If Sydney really interests you, then you might want to also order a more 'dry' history of the city to complement this book.
The book feels like it will be almost a manual for Sydney, to go back and check facts, mostly to solve arguments I suppose, because you get those conversations where people want to out-dark each other by knowing the dirtiest stories. Yeah this book will come in handy for sure