Book sheds new light on local Labor legend
Thursday, 12th August, 2010
An ex-local has written a biography of the legendary Labor great Percy Brookfield which brings new information about him to light.
University lecturer Dr Paul Adams' book, titled "The Best Hated Man in Australia: The Life and Death of Percy Brookfield," gives new insights into the life of the late trade union leader and State MP.
"I'd been interested in left wing politics since I was a kid," Dr Adams said.
His fascination with Percy Brookfield started around seven years ago when he first saw Brookfield's memorial at the cemetery.
"When my Nana died I went out to the Broken Hill Cemetery and put some flowers on her grave and I noticed the memorial," he said.
He then spent time researching and delving into the past, and discovered that biographies written about the local legend had not been completed.
Dr Adams chose the title after discovering writings by Donald Grant, a prisoner whom Brookfield tried to set free.
During World War One he was called a coward by every capitalist newspaper in the country because he led a campaign against conscription and opposed the war.
"Of all the hated men of the time, he was the best," Grant wrote.
Dr Adams said among the most interesting finds he made in his research was a local miner named Paul Freeman who was deported and stateless for some time before returning to town as a spy and under-cover agent.
Since his death 89 years ago, Brookfield's legacy was still evident in town with displays, paintings and an avenue street named after him.
The book will be launched at the Trades Hall tomorrow at 5pm, with former State Labor MP Peter Black as guest speaker.
The launch is open to anyone with an interest in the city's history.
Paul Adams holds a PhD from the University of Sydney and now lives in Armidale NSW where he teaches media at the University of New England.