Hancock: Man of Iron – Neil Phillipson
This book is a comprehensive book describing Lang Hancock and his association with mining in Western Australia. It gives a good deal of information about mining and helps to understand Hancock’s personality. He was a third generation North Australian and his name was synonymous with the Pilbara region, so much so that it’s quite amazing his name is not found there more often. When I opened it I expected to get more details on Hancock himself, but was quite stunned to find very little information of a personal nature. His second wife, Hope, was mentioned a number of times as was his daughter, Gina Rinehart but the book finishes in 1972, 11 years before Hope’s death and therefore 13 years before his marriage to Rose Porteous, eliminating any probability of having the later events mentioned.
It is very well written and gives a great insight into the events of the period from 1952 to 1972 as well as giving a good background into Hancock as a child and Hancock’s family from when they first settled the area. Phillipson has endeavoured to present a balanced view, even disagreeing with Hancock about his first sighting of the iron ore as well as mentioning how Hancock would sometimes visit Sir Charles Court, the Minister for Industrial Development at his home to discuss small points quite amicably in stark contrast to his vicious attacks in the media.
Despite having so much detail on mining I quite enjoyed this book. It mostly explained the mining terms so I put the book down feeling I had a much greater understanding of the mining industry, the politics of the time and also how Hancock worked within or without the system. The Pilbara is a very hard country and everything there is so distant from every other place so you really need to be made of stern stuff to do as much as Hancock. The weather in that area is also incredibly hot with Marble Bar having the distinction of recording many days with temperatures in excess of 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit).
This book is currently for sale at Suz’s Space.