Rum: A Distilled History of Colonial Australia
Australia and its formation - through the distorted view of a rum bottle.
Could the Rum Rebellion have been averted if Major Johnston wasn't too hungover to meet Governor Bligh?
Would the Eureka Stockade have played out differently if the rebels weren't pissed?
How were prisoners to get drunk if Macquarie closed the only pub in the jail?
And why should sailors under fourteen be deprived of their sixteen shots of rum per day?
These are just some of the questions answered in Matt Murphy's account of this country's colonial history through the distorted lens of a rum bottle. Brimming with detailed research and irreverent character sketches, Rum looks at not just how much was drunk in colonial Australia (a lot!), but also the lengths people went to get their hands on it, the futile efforts of the early governors to control it and the often disastrous and/or absurd consequences of its consumption.
They are consequences that are felt today. Murphy goes beyond foundational stories, to look at distant and recent history, Indigenous consumption, the temperance movement, lockout laws, and the nation's modern reputation. And if that's too much nation-building for your tipple, there's always the vexed issue of politicians urinating on the parliamentary carpet.
So here's to Rum, for making bad decisions look like a good idea at the time.
Published June 2021
234mm x 153mm