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Book Details
Show me a larger image of: "The Pearl King" The Pearl King
Robert Lehane
$34.95   Add a copy of "The Pearl King" to your order

Born on a Hunter estuary, NSW, island in 1857, James Clark was orphaned at age two, arrived penniless in Brisbane ten years later, and never looked back. Starting out in Torres Strait at 23, he became the dominant figure in Australia’s pearlshelling industry, The Pearl King. Then, with a young partner, he built one of the nation’s biggest pastoral companies. He ran an oyster business in Moreton Bay that supplied gourmet markets as far away as Perth, and was prominent in Queensland’s yachting and horseracing fraternities. Entrepreneurial, generous, with a reputation for straight-shooting, he lived life to the full.


'Biographies of adventurers always hit the mark for those interested not only in history but in the strange events which make up its rich tapestry', Anne-Maree Whitaker observed in her review in the Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society. She found The Pearl King 'a fascinating study'. In the Sydney University alumni magazine SAM, Colleen Cook wrote: 'Without a driving force such as Robert Lehane, distinguished Australians like James Clark might go unnoticed. Lehane has given us not only insight into the man, but how his fledgling enterprises grew to contribute much to Queensland's development in the late 19th and early 20th centuries... This book is a perfect memorial.'

This terrifically interesting book documents not only the extraordinary life of James Clark, who became known as the Pearl King, but also provides valuable, synthesised detail about the early years of the pearling and oyster industries in Australia, and later the wool industry. It is clear that a very large amount of research has been carried out and the story of this archetypal self-made man’s life is described with considerable depth of understanding of him, his family and friends, and the society they lived in. The quoted material has been worked in well and the subject matter is depicted in a way that captures the imagination of the reader, making them want to learn more about both this fascinating character and the social and political times in which he lived. The various physical environments were also described in a captivating manner. This book is highly commended for its depth of research, writing style and excellent production value. The many photographs and plates are well placed, and the terrific covers and chapter graphics add a lovely, authentic feel to the book. While the chapters are not too long, some subject subheadings might have helped the reader scan for major dates and topics.
Pippa Carron & Sonja Chandler from the ACT Writers Centre.

fascinating biography of an Australian businessman who deserves to be far better known,
Ian Townsend, Queensland Review.