John Birmingham is an Australian author. Birmingham was born in Liverpool, England and migrated to Australia with his parents in 1970. John Birmingham grew up in Ipswich, Queensland and was educated at St Edmunds Christian Brother's College in Ipswich and the University of Queensland in Brisbane. His only stint of full time employment was as a researcher at the Defence Department. After this he returned to Queensland to study law but he did not complete his legal studies, choosing instead to pursue a career as a writer. While a law student he was one of the last people arrested under the state's Anti Street March legislation.John Birmingham was convicted of displaying a sheet of paper with the words 'Free Speech' written on it in very small type. The local newspaper carried a photograph of him being frogmarched off to a waiting police paddy wagon.
John Birmingham was first published in Semper Floreat, the student newspaper at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, writing a series of stories featuring a fictional character named Commander Harrison Biscuit. He won a young writers award for the Independent, which was edited by Brian Toohey and wrote a number of articles for Rolling Stone and Australian Penthouse magazines. John Birmingham is most notable for the novel He Died With A Felafel In His Hand (1994), which has since been turned into a play, film and a graphic novel. The sequel is The Tasmanian Babes Fiasco (Duffy and Snellgrove, 1997). The play was written and produced by thirty-six unemployed actors. It went on to become the longest running stage play in Australian history.
Other works by him include the The Search for Savage Henry a crime novel featuring the character Harrison Biscuit, How To Be A Man, a semi-humorous guide to contemporary Australian masculinity and Off One's Tits, a collection of essays and articles previously published elsewhere. He also spent four years researching the history of Sydney for Leviathan: the unauthorised biography of Sydney (Random House, 1999, ISBN 0-09-184203-4). It won Australia's National Prize For Non-Fiction in 2002.
He has also written two small pocket books The Felafel Guide to Getting Wasted (2002) and The Felafel Guide to Sex (2002) which feature advice Birmingham has received over the years regarding those two subjects. He also wrote the non-fictional book "Dopeland" which examined Australia's cannabis culture. Birmingham has also written two Quarterly Essays (Black Inc. an imprint of Schwartz Publishing Pty Ltd) Appeasing Jakarta: Australia's Complicity in the East Timor Tragedy and A Time for War: Australia as a Military Power.
In 2004 he published the alternate history Weapons of Choice, the first in the Axis of Time trilogy, a series of Tom Clancy-like techno-thrillers. Many writers from those genres appear as minor characters. It was published by Del Rey Books in the US and by Pan Macmillan in Australia. The series tells of a multinational peacekeeping force from the early 21st century being taken back in time to 1942, where its presence completely changes the course of the Second World War. In August 2005, the second book, Designated Targets was published in Australia. US publication followed in October. The third and final book in the trilogy, Final Impact, was released in Australia in early August 2006, and was released in the US in January 2007.
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