Fire in the Blood, by Robert Macklin

150 years ago Frank Gardiner was the most famous outlaw in Australia, leading a team of bushrangers which included Ben Hall and Johnny Gilbert. He held up mail coaches, plundered gold and stole horses and cattle, but he claimed that he had never hurt any woman or committed a mean or petty act.

Frank Gardiner escaped hanging for his crimes, and was the first man to be exiled from Australia as part of his punishment. He lived out his days in America.

Fire in the blood is a fictionalised account of Gardiner’s life both in Australia and in the United States and provides an inside look not just at his escapades, but also at those of his contemporaries. Told in first person, Gardiner shares his past through a series of flashbacks, stimulated by the arrival in the US of Harry Hall, son of Ben. At the same time, Harry and Gardiner have dramas of their own—Harry, it seems, has come to America to kill Gardiner.

Whilst a work of fiction, most of this story is based on the facts of Gardner’s life. By using the novel form, rather than a straight non-fiction piece, author Robert Macklin provides an opportunity for the reader to explore the human side of the bushranger.

An intriguing read.

Fire in the Blood, by Robert Macklin
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