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By: Warren Thomas Brown


Pages: 226 Ratings: 5.0
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This is a story of the casual criminality that is required to navigate the bureaucracy and business in general. Sometimes this is necessary for the system to operate, sometimes a mere convenience, sometimes for financial gain or even just a helping hand for another human being.

The story covers the sloth, incompetence and pure evil of the Civil Service and their interaction with private business. It tells of what really happens in the inner workings of private businesses and their interaction with their overlords in intimate detail. This is a story seldom, if ever told, because those that know don’t write, and those who write don’t know. It covers the wonderful world of dodgy finance and operating a large business without capital. It is a story of human endurance and persistence and eventual victory of a sort.

The story begins with a description of life in rural Queensland about thirty years after the original white settlement, covers the construction of major infrastructure when rural industries were expanding rapidly and the early years of the iconic mineral industry at Mount Isa. The author knew well at least eight men who spent a considerable stretch in jail and can say that none of them were bad men and at least three were men of higher moral standards and love of their fellow man than the general population. This is in contrast to some of the very senior public servants with whom he crossed swords, who were pure evil and grossly incompetent to boot.

Warren Brown was raised in a rural area outside Gympie, a town in Queensland, Australia. He completed his primary education at the age of twelve by attending one-teacher schools and gained entry to the Institution of Civil Engineers as a chartered engineer by passing the examinations set by that institution after private study while working in the construction industry. He spent the early part of his life in the construction industry and was responsible for management of construction of three dams, one a major structure. He spent a lot of his life in legal disputes and finished his career as the principal of a mid-sized civil engineering consultancy.

Customer Reviews
2 reviews
2 reviews
  • Anthony Court BE (Met) BE (Mech)

    Warren Brown’s “Memoir” is an interesting story of his life, from his early upbringing in a rural community south of Gympie, his education, his training as a professional civil engineer, his career as a civil engineering contractor, and as a civil engineering consultant in soils testing. Warren’s account of his early years and of his career as a civil engineer, is one of resourcefulness, enterprising in endeavour and ever entrepreneurial in his approach. He suffered at the hands of public servants administering contracts he had won – even to the extent of sending him broke at one stage. His story is an interesting perspective of development work in Queensland post World War II, and gives insights to some challenging projects that Warren completed. His decision to give up gaining his degree in Civil Engineering at Qld University and instead gaining his qualifications through on the job working under the auspices of the Institution of Engineers Australia and sitting their exams, is unusual. I expect Warren’s “Memoir” will be of great interest to others of the civil engineering profession who worked in the same era and his detailed descriptions of his construction equipment on particular jobs would bring back memories.

  • Andrew Slater

    Being from England, I was keen to read Warren’s memoirs about his boyhood and career when he first mentioned his writing to me.

    I was absolutely enthralled by Warren’s accounts of his early post-WWII life in the Queensland country town of Gympie, such as his early adventures (misadventures?) into entrepreneurship - ‘The Great Mango Adventure’ being just one. Then follows his gradual progression to being a young and naïve engineer working in the wild north of Australia. The hardships faced, and his development as a green Civil Engineer taking on the established malpractices of some business and local councils as he fought to develop proper roads and bridges, are well chronicled. At times his forays into this forbidding country led to life-threatening dangers that only a mixture of ingenuity and good fortune enabled him to survive.

    There are necessary explanations of what he did and why, but even to someone with no engineering background, it can be understood and acknowledged how the responsibility often fell to him to do the right and proper thing.

    Nothing is stated as such in his memoirs, but it can be gauged from his relationships with his partners, business people and various civic leaders the respect that was given, often grudgingly, to his expertise in overcoming difficult engineering assignments. Nonetheless, many times he had to overcome the pettiness of minor bureaucrats who were resentful of the achievements of this clever young man.

    In his writing Warren has shown himself to be a man who is literate, well read and having a love of poetry. He is a man of honour and wisdom, qualities that shine through in his writing. As a boy, Warren remembers listening to a serial on the radio in his early days that seemed to start with the same beginning each week… “It is about a man living with Faith and Courage to rebuild the world that was.”

    This could well be a description of Warren Brown.

    And if you don’t know what a spalling hammer is, this book is for you! (345)

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