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A Commonwealth of Thieves: The Improbable Birth of Australia (2005)
Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 140007956X, Paperback)In this spirited history of the remarkable first four years of the convict settlement of Australia, Thomas Keneally offers us a human view of a fascinating piece of history. Combining the authority of a renowned historian with a brilliant narrative flair, Keneally gives us an inside view of this unprecedented experiment from the perspective of the new colony’s governor, Arthur Phillips. Using personal journals and documents, Keneally re-creates the hellish overseas voyage and the challenges Phillips faced upon arrival: unruly convicts, disgruntled officers, bewildered and hostile natives, food shortages, and disease. He also offers captivating portrayals of Aborigines and of convict settlers who were determined to begin their lives anew. A Commonwealth of Thieves immerses us in the fledgling penal colony and conjures up the thrills and hardships of those first four improbable years.
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:34 -0400)
Drawing on historical documents and journals, with the authority of a historian and the narrative grace of a novelist, Keneally recounts the founding of the first penal colony in Australia in 1788. At the center of the story is Arthur Phillips, an ambitious captain in the Royal Navy assigned the formidable task of organizing the expedition to Australia and establishing a colony comprised mainly of unskilled and malcontent criminals and petty thieves, many determined to overcome their pasts and begin anew. Keneally re-creates the grueling overseas voyage, a hellish journey that claimed many lives. As governor, Phillips took on the challenges of dealing with unruly convicts, disgruntled officers, a bewildered, sometimes hostile native population, as well as such serious matters as food shortages and disease. In the end Phillips emerges as a governor driven by a yearning for recognition and advancement, yet possessed of a social conscience rare for his time.--From publisher description.
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