Hunter Valley electrician Nathan Tinkler borrowed big to turn a fortune from a speculative coal play, bursting onto the rich list in 2008 and quickly becoming Australia's youngest billionaire at the age of 35. Tinkler was emblem of both Australia's new aspirational classes and its once-in-a-generation resources boom. Adopting Newcastle as his hometown, Tinkler lived the high life as only a young man would: buying up mansions, football teams, private jets, exotic supercars and – above all else – splurging hundreds of millions of dollars to indulge his family's love of horseracing.
But Tinkler left a trail of destruction in his wake. A nasty habit of not paying creditors would come back to bite him as he accumulated enemies. Tinkler's skill was to borrow heavily, pick up neglected coal assets, prove them up and quickly on-sell them at a huge profit. It only worked in a rising market and when coal prices slumped in 2012, he had no cashflow to service his huge debts. Tinkler looked for help but he had burned too many bridges, and his downfall came as quickly as his meteoric rise.
An inveterate bull, Tinkler may yet avert bankruptcy. But his dreams and his fortune will almost certainly be gone. Brought undone after doubling and tripling his bets on coal, his story is some kind of parable for modern Australia.
This is a stunning biography, filled with colour and movement, by one of Australia's leading business writers.