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Few names in Australian criminal history are as redolent as the Painters and Dockers. They were a union gone to the bad. From their outset in the early years of the 20th Century, they attracted more than their fair share of shady waterfront characters, and by the 1960s, '70s and '80s they had become a fully fledged criminal fraternity of some of the most violent and dangerous men in Australia. Standover, smuggling, gambling, prostitution and drugs were the daily trade of the Painters and Dockers, whilst arguments and old scores were more often than not settled with the lethal blast of a sawn-off shotgun.
From famous criminals of the past such as Squizzy Tailor, through the recent gangland wars in Melbourne, the story of the Painters and Dockers touches almost every part of our violent and bloody underworld history. Their members and associates are a rollcall of some of Australia's most brutal and violent offenders: Brian and Les Kane, Ray Bennett, Billy Longley and the Moran family among many others. Written by James Morton, author of the bestselling Gangland Australia (MUP 2008) and Russell Robinson, Shotgun and Standover brilliantly tells the story of the Painters and Dockers in a definitive work of true crime.
Subtitled "The Story of the Painters and Dockers" I think this probably would have been better if it had said "The Story of Members of the Painters and Dockers".
Told in typical James Morton style, this is a book of anecdotes and stories of various members of the painters and dockers from its inception to its folding. One of the most notorious unions in Australian History, the book doesn't really give you much insight into the workings of the Painters and Dockers themselves, rather it provides a long and involved tale of all of the various goings on of the various notorious individual members of the union, with brief snippets on how / where they fitted into the union infrastructure.
As much as I found the tales of the various players interesting and frequently a little disturbing, I came away from the book with a distinct feeling of let-down. There's not a lot of analysis or indepth discussion about the union itself in this book - but if you're looking for some anecdotes about the various members - then there is something here for you.
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