Award-winning author Hanifa Deen enters the wonderful world of the archives and discovers 'a tribe of men with a hidden history' - men whose stories are rarely told: the 'Ghans', Afghans, cameleers, sepoys, hawkers, herbalists, and pearl divers, known collectively as Mohammedans in early Australian history.
This book was an inspiration for Roderick MacKay's movie The Furnace starring David Wenham and Jay Ryan.
Mahomet Allum, wonder herbalist and ladies' man, bush battler Ali Abdul, the feisty Afghan Rock men, and Sam the republican pearl diver, are some of Deen's 'men from the archives'. To others they are troublemakers and 'lustful aliens'. Unwelcome and a threat to Australian workers, these are the dark strangers in the days of the White Australia Policy, when race was used to classify people and bar them from entering the country.
This fascinating collection of narratives combines Deen's gift for storytelling with history and nostalgia as she takes the reader back into Australia's past. These stories may even help explain some of the moral ambiguities and strange ironies that trouble us today.