On a burning summer’s day in 1903 eight European migrants set out on a jolly picnic in the hills east of Perth. Wine flowed, a shot was heard, and in a bizarre turn of events six of them, including three women, were sentenced to hang just a few weeks later.
Disturbing social divisions erupted as ugly attitudes towards migrants were revealed. For Australians brought up on the notion of ‘a fair go’, a raw nerve of intolerance was exposed.
Nearly half a century later, amid the great postwar migrant boom of the ‘fifties, the same misunderstanding, misguided patriotism, bigotry and sheer cruel-mindedness recurred. Much of Tom Austen’s minutely researched book focuses on this second strang case and an equally unfortunate stranger in our midst, the Czechoslovak migrant Karol Tapci.
Here is a stimulating tru-life detective story of a violent death which split an entire community. This probing study of the luckless Tapci exposes Australia’s two-faced welcome for many of its new settlers seeking a stake in the Lucky Country.
Professor Manning Clark called The Entombed Miner, another social history by Tom Austen, ‘a great thriller, told very well.’The Stranger is also a true thriller and an antomy of community bias.
AUTHOR: Tom Austen