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Leviathan: The Unauthorised Biography of Sydney - John Birmingham

Leviathan: The Unauthorised Biography of Sydney

Paperback Published: August 2000
ISBN: 9780091842031
Number Of Pages: 592

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'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 techo-thriller, John Birmingham creates a rich portrait of a city too dazzled by its own gorgeous reflection to care much 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.

ISBN: 9780091842031
ISBN-10: 0091842034
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 592
Published: August 2000
Publisher: Random House Australia
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 19.7 x 12.9  x 3.9
Weight (kg): 0.43
Edition Number: 1

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John Birmingham

About the Author


John Birmingham is the author of the cult classic He Died With a Felafel in His Hand, the award-winning history Leviathan, Without Warningand the trilogy comprising Weapons of Choice: World War 2.1, Designated Targets: World War 2.2 and Final Impact: World War 2.3. His latest novel is After America.

Between writing books he contributes to a wide range of newspapers and magazines on topics as diverse as biotechnology and national security. Before becoming a writer he began his working life as research officer with the Defence Department's Office of Special Clearance and Records.

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If you ask him nicely, he might even answer your questions, but he will probably not read your manuscript. He's very lazy.

Despite working his way to the top of the freelancing trade, Birmingham says before Felafel was published in 1994 he was trying to live in Sydney on about $12,000 a year, accumulating the life experience that eventually made him a household name Australia-wide.

"I often wonder what would've happened if either I hadn't written the book or it hadn't been a success," he said.

"And it wasn't a success for six months. For six months it just died in the arse really. It wasn't that nobody would buy it, the shops wouldn't even stock it. Poor old Michael Duffy looked like he was going to do his dough cold, and then for whatever reason it began to sell, and then it took off and exploded.

"But I guess I do know what the alternative would have been. I would have ended up like some of my writer friends who are really struggling to get by, selling fudge at the markets on the weekends to pay their electricity bill.

"You can do that stuff when you're in your 20s and you're single and childless and have no-one to look after or to blame but yourself, but once you enter a serious relationship and start having kids then all of a sudden there are other people depending on you and the equation gets pretty f***ing grim very quickly.

"So I actually don't care to think about the downside alternatives, what would've happened if Felafel wasn't written or just came out and died, which is the fate of most books."

Visit John Birmingham's Booktopia Author Page