- O'Leary of the Underworld: The untold story of the Forrest River Massacre
O'Leary of the Underworld: The untold story of the Forrest River Massacre
A powerful investigation that reveals the deep injustices inflicted on Aboriginal people in the Kimberley in the 1920s
In June 1926, a posse of police officers and white civilians murdered at least twenty Oombulgurri people at Forrest River in the Kimberley. After the massacre, a conspiracy of silence descended. Witnesses vanished. Charges against two of the officers were dropped for insufficient evidence.
One of the massacre's perpetrators was Bernard O'Leary, a former soldier whose land holding was known as 'the underworld'. At the 1927 Royal Commission into the killings, O'Leary was portrayed by his lawyer as a simple honest backwoodsman who was framed. In this powerful account, Kate Auty argues that O'Leary was in fact 'vicious, brazen and a bullshitter', with 'a propensity for brutality'. Although never charged, he played a leading role in the murders, and his duplicitous testimony thwarted the commission's work.
In electric prose, Auty depicts O'Leary as a merciless killer, while the apparatus that concealed his crimes is portrayed with great realism and clarity. Driven by both forensic and moral judgement, the book exposes the injustices embedded in Australian settlement history, and the culture of denial that has prevented truth-telling in this country.
Details: Non-fiction, published 2023.
Format: Soft cover, 288 pages.
Dimensions: 23.3 cm (h) x 15.4 cm (w) x 2.4 cm (d) / 400 grams.