Wizards of Oz: How Oliphant and Florey helped win the war and shape the modern world
Brett Mason


Paperback | Oct 2022 | NewSouth | 9781742237459 | 432pp | 210x135mm | GEN | AUD$34.99, NZD$39.99

Two Australian scientists played a vital yet largely unknown role in the Allied victory in the Second World War. Almost eight decades later, Wizards of Oz finally tells their story.

In this fast-paced and compelling book, Brett Mason reveals how childhood friends from Adelaide — physicist Mark Oliphant and medical researcher Howard Florey — initiated the most significant scientific and industrial projects of the Second World War: manufacturing penicillin, developing microwave radar and building the atomic bomb. These innovations gave the Allies the edge and ultimate victory over Germany and Japan.

More than just a story of scientific discovery, Wizards of Oz is a remarkable tale of secret missions, international intrigue and triumph against all odds. Mason tells how Oliphant and Florey were also instrumental in convincing a reluctant United States to develop and deploy the three breakthrough inventions in time to change the course of the war. These two Australians not only helped win the war but shaped the peace, with their war-time contributions continuing to influence international politics and the health and wealth of nations.

Oliphant and Florey emerge in Wizards of Oz as the two most consequential Australians of the Second World War — perhaps of all time.

‘Unputdownable!’ — General Sir Peter Cosgrove

‘A wonderful slice of Australian history.’ — Peter Fitzsimons

‘Great stories!’ — Professor Peter Doherty

'Both the telling and the tale are utterly captivating.' — Campus Morning Mail

'It’s a timely reminder, after so many years of Australian science being neglected and diminished, of an era when Australian scientists not only held their place on the world stage but commanded it.' — Bianca Nogrady, the Sydney Morning Herald

‘A compelling read: exquisitely detailed, beautifully written, comprehensively researched…I couldn’t put it down until I turned the very last page.’ — Hon Julie Bishop

‘A truly great book…Among the very best of scientific histories I have read anywhere in the world.’ — Professor Brian Schmidt AC

‘This book will captivate and enchant you.’ — Colin Steele, Emeritus Fellow at ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences