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Underworld: Mugshots from the Roaring Twenties – Pre-order – Delivery December 2017


Pre-order your copy now for delivery December 2017

Candid and compelling, these police mugshots capture the colourful and sinister players of the 1920s criminal underworld. Fast times bred new crimes, and illicit markets for alcohol, cocaine and other vices sprang up around the globe. From stone-cold gangsters to thrill-seeking joy-riders, this remarkable rogues’ gallery exposes the dark side of the Roaring Twenties. 

The 1920s, a decade known for glamour, frivolity and rapid change. But the era had a dark side, illuminated in these oddly candid mugshots. Fashionable flappers drawn to the bright city lights end up selling cocaine on its darkest streets, youthful joy-riders pay the price for a spin in a ‘borrowed’ car, and returned soldiers flash hard-won medals in a silent plea for leniency from the police.

Change brought opportunity: around the world, criminals rushed to take advantage of illicit markets in drugs and alcohol, staking their turf and defending it ruthlessly with cutthroat razor, revolver and fists. Police captured them in all their grimy glory in these intriguing portraits of a city’s bosses, bruisers, plotters and petty crims. 

Underworld features 220 images drawn from a unique collection of glass-plate negatives of police suspects known as the ‘Specials’, part of the New South Wales Police Forensic Photography Archive held by Sydney Living Museums. Almost 100 years after their creation, these photographs invite you into a long-lost world.

Nerida Campbell is a curator at Sydney Living Museums. She has spent many years interpreting criminal histories.

Luc Sante is a writer and critic based in the USA. He is a long-time contributor to
The New York Review of Books, and his publications include Low life, Evidence and The other Paris.

Alastair Sooke is a British journalist and broadcaster. He is an art critic at
The Telegraph, contributes a fortnightly column to the BBC’s international website
and has written three books about art.

Nerida Campbell, Luc Sante, Alastair Sooke
Published December 2017
Hardcover with half dust jacket
288 pages
over 240 duotone images
235 mm x 320mm
ISBN 9781876991456

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