Melbourne Cup 1930, by Geoff Armstrong & Peter Thompson

The Studebaker cut the corner as it bounced too quickly into Etna Street, and hardly slowed as it drew level with Woodcock. To his horror, the strapper saw that the man in the back now had in his hands not a newspaper but a double-barrelled shotgun, aimed straight at him.

While history shows that Phar Lap won the prestigious Melbourne Cup in 1930, most Australians are unaware of the dramas that dominated the days leading up the cup. First Phar Lap was shot at as his strapper lead him home from a workout. To keep him safe, he was spirited away to Geelong, where he was kept hidden and under police guard. After violent storms and sleepless nights for his watchers, Phar Lap was finally taken back to Melbourne on cup day – only to have the truck carrying him break down several times on the way. None of these dramas, however, were able to stop Phar Lap from decimating the Cup field.

Melbourne Cup 1930 is a detailed analysis of all aspects of the 1930 Cup, with a focus, of course, on the dramas which surrounded Phar Lap. Authors Geoff Armstrong and Peter Thompson unravel the rumours, innuendos and facts about what really happened in those drama-filled days leading up to the Cup.

Not just for horse racing enthusiasts, this is a detailed look at a special part of Australia’s history. No other horse has captured Australia’s heart so completely, and this offering gives a glimpse into the reasons for that passion.

Melbourne Cup 1930: How Phar Lap Won Australia’s Greatest Race, by Geoff Armstrong & Peter Thompson
Allen & Unwin, 2005

The Man Who Died Twice, by Peter Thompson and Robert Macklin

Trained as a doctor, George Ernest Morrison, better known as ‘Morrison of Peking’ was much more than a medico. As doctor, explorer, political advisor and – most famously – journalist, Morrison made his name in the world of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Raised in Australia, Morison always hoped to do something great. At just 20 he walked alone and unaided from the Gulf of Carpenteria to Melbourne, retracing the steps of the less successful Burke and Wills only 21 years prior.

Having exposed the Australian Kanak slave trade through the Melbourne Age, after gainining employment on a slave ship, and subsequently attempting the first crossing of New Guinea, Morrison travelled to England where he first became a doctor and, later, a journalist.

Morrison’s greatest fame came from his time in Peking, as correspondent to London’s Times newspaper. His reports did more than just record the downfall of the Chinese dynasty – they actually shaped the course of events both in the Boxer rebellion and the subsequent birth of the Chinese Republic.

The Man Who Died Twice provides a detailed account of the travels, adventures and working life of this extraordinary Australian. Authors Peter Thompson and Robert Macklin have used Morrison’s diaries, correspondence and newspaper stories to piece together a detailed account of his life from his chidlhood through to his death at the age of 58.

This is a gripping read for fans of biography and students of history. Even fans of fiction will be intrigued by the experiences this one man managed to fit into his lifetime.

Superb reading.

The Man Who Died Twice, by Peter Thompson and Robert Macklin
Allen & Unwin, 2004