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A Commonwealth of Thieves by Thomas Keneally
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A Commonwealth of Thieves (original 2005; edition 2006)

by Thomas Keneally (Author)

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6111038,835 (3.72)29
It was 1786 when Arthur Phillip, an ambitious captain in the Royal Navy, was assigned the formidable task of organizing an expedition to Australia in order to establish a penal colony. The squalid and turbulent prisons of London were overflowing, and crime was on the rise. Even the hulks sifting at anchor in the Thames were packed with malcontent criminals and petty thieves. So the English government decided to undertake the unprecedented move of shipping off its convicts to a largely unexplored landmass at the other end of the world. Using the personal journals and documents that were kept during this expedition, historian/novelist Thomas Keneally re-creates the grueling overseas voyage, a hellish, suffocating journey that claimed the lives of many convicts. Miraculously, the fleet reached the shores of what was then called New South Wales in 1788, and after much trial and error, the crew managed to set up a rudimentary yet vibrant settlement. As governor of the colony, Phillip 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. Moving beyond Phillip, Keneally offers captivating portrayals of Aborigines, who both aided and opposed Phillip, and of the settlers, including convicts who were determined to overcome their pasts and begin anew. With the authority of a renowned historian and the narrative grace of a brilliant novelist, Thomas Keneally offers an insider's perspective into the dramatic saga of the birth of a vibrant society in an unfamiliar land. A Commonwealth of Thieves immerses us in the fledgling penal colony and conjures up colorful scenes of the joy and heartbreak, the thrills and hardships that characterized those first four improbable years. The result is a lively and engrossing work of history, as well as a tale of redemption for the thousands of convicts who started new lives thousands of miles from their homes..… (more)
Member:Tallyfox
Title:A Commonwealth of Thieves
Authors:Thomas Keneally (Author)
Info:Random House (2006)
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A Commonwealth of Thieves: The Improbable Birth of Australia by Thomas Keneally (2005)

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Well written story of the first European peopling of Australia at the penal colonies in Sydney and on Norfolk Island. ( )
  stevesbookstuff | Nov 7, 2020 |
A good enveloping account of the arrival of prisoners to the penal colony of what is now Australia. Mr. Keneally knows his subjects inside-out and brings a unique perspective to the events. ( )
  charlie68 | May 29, 2016 |
The subtitle of 'The Improbable Birth of Australia' tells the reader that Keneally's book will deal with the first settlement established by the convict fleets from the UK. The author gives us not only a history of the first few years of settlement but also the story of Captain Arthur Phillip and his trials as the first governor of the convict colony. While one often hears of Botany Bay, less often does one hear that the first settlement was actually further north at Sydney Cove inside a large bay whose month was called Port Jackson, Phillip having decided almost at first sight that Botany Bay was unsuitable. While there was a lot of death, hunger, strife among Phillip's officers, and uneasy relations with the native clans, the settlement did have it's successes and became, in time, a major city.

I found the book to be interesting but very detailed and didn't enjoy it quite as much as I had hoped.
  hailelib | Dec 8, 2014 |
Fascinating account of the settlement of Australia from the landing of the First Fleet and through the first few years of the colony. Easy to read, very informative and with a focus on individual characters as well as the broader issues relating to the foundation of white settlement in Australia. #ThomasKeneally #CommonwealthOfThieves ( )
  PennyAnne | Dec 5, 2014 |
Very good! I could not put it down. ( )
  SpaceyAcey | Sep 23, 2013 |
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If, in the New Year of 1788, the eye of God had strayed from the main games of Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa, and idled over the huge vacancy of sea to the south-east of Africa, it would have been surprised in this empty zone to see not one, but all of eleven ships being driven east on the streaming band of westerlies.
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It was 1786 when Arthur Phillip, an ambitious captain in the Royal Navy, was assigned the formidable task of organizing an expedition to Australia in order to establish a penal colony. The squalid and turbulent prisons of London were overflowing, and crime was on the rise. Even the hulks sifting at anchor in the Thames were packed with malcontent criminals and petty thieves. So the English government decided to undertake the unprecedented move of shipping off its convicts to a largely unexplored landmass at the other end of the world. Using the personal journals and documents that were kept during this expedition, historian/novelist Thomas Keneally re-creates the grueling overseas voyage, a hellish, suffocating journey that claimed the lives of many convicts. Miraculously, the fleet reached the shores of what was then called New South Wales in 1788, and after much trial and error, the crew managed to set up a rudimentary yet vibrant settlement. As governor of the colony, Phillip 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. Moving beyond Phillip, Keneally offers captivating portrayals of Aborigines, who both aided and opposed Phillip, and of the settlers, including convicts who were determined to overcome their pasts and begin anew. With the authority of a renowned historian and the narrative grace of a brilliant novelist, Thomas Keneally offers an insider's perspective into the dramatic saga of the birth of a vibrant society in an unfamiliar land. A Commonwealth of Thieves immerses us in the fledgling penal colony and conjures up colorful scenes of the joy and heartbreak, the thrills and hardships that characterized those first four improbable years. The result is a lively and engrossing work of history, as well as a tale of redemption for the thousands of convicts who started new lives thousands of miles from their homes..

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