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Wild Man

by Alecia Simmonds

In April 2012 a man was shot dead by police on a remote farm in New South Wales called the School of Happiness. The victim, who was high on a cocktail of drugs and who suffered from mental illness, had been threatening attendees of a hippie festival with a crossbow and hunting knife. When the police finally arrived, they tried to subdue him but, ultimately, fatal shots were fired.

In Wild Man Alecia Simmonds follows the coronial inquest into the police killing. She reveals what really happened that night and unravels the web of issues entangled in this fascinating, bizarre and, undoubtedly, tragic case: a cultural clash between hippies and hunters; drug use, violence, masculinity and psychosis. She asks how family members, as well as police, came to work on the frontline of mental health. This spectacular book is a clear-eyed look at some of the most pressing problems facing contemporary Australia.

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‘A fine book: spirited, clever, warm and very brave.’ – HELEN GARNER

‘With skill, tact and empathy, Simmonds probes the complex dynamics that shape our perception and policing of madness.’

‘With a lawyer’s precision, an historian’s sensibility and a storyteller’s heart, Alecia Simmonds has written an important and necessary book. In Simmonds we have a new observer of the way our society functions.’

Wild Man is neo-journalism from the gates of hell. A study in modern Australian gothic, madness and horror.’ – JOHN BIRMINGHAM