Drug Traffic by Alfred McCoy

This was published in 1980, the year after Bob Bottom’s The Godfather in Australia, making it (so far as I know) the second Australian book about organised crime.

It is the most magisterial treatment of organised crime in Sydney in the 1960s and 1970s, and reputedly benefitted hugely from assistance provided by Rupert Murdoch, in the form of a researcher and access to the News Ltd library in Kippax Street. Whatever the case, the book is well documented, in sharp contrast to every other book on the subject. Mind you, most of its sources are newspaper articles, many written by reporters who were in thrall to the police, so they need to be taken with a grain of salt. Nevertheless, this is the best account of the subject we are ever going to get.

McCoy, an American academic, was working in Sydney when the book was published. Rumour has it he’d been run out of America because of previous work on links between the CIA and the Asian heroin trade, a subject that was to make him famous when he published on it later and returned to the USA. He certainly brought to Drug Traffic a string awareness of the importance of international connections.

Much of the book is published, with permission, on this website in the section rganised Crime.