Could the Rum Rebellion have been averted if Major Johnston wasn’t hungover?
Would the Eureka Stockade have been different if the rebels weren’t pissed?
How were prisoners to get drunk if Macquarie closed the only pub in the gaol?
And why should sailors under fourteen be deprived of their sixteen shots of rum per day?
These are just some of the questions raised in Matt Murphy’s account of Australia’s colonial history. 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.
About the speaker: At school, Matt Murphy failed English and couldn’t see the point of history. He became a firie and has been serving in Sydney’s inner city for 33 years. He is now also a part-time historian and teacher, tolerating the attitudes of kids towards history that he used to share. His previous book, Weight of Evidence, is about what was the longest civil court case in New South Wales. Matt’s younger self would be aghast that he is now writing history books but be consoled by the absurdist voice old Matt has achieved.