In 1787, the twenty-eighth year of the reign of King George III, the British Government sent a fleet to colonize Australia...This work presents an ...Show synopsisIn 1787, the twenty-eighth year of the reign of King George III, the British Government sent a fleet to colonize Australia...This work presents an epic description of the brutal transportation of men, women and children out of Georgian Britain into a horrific penal system which was to be the precursor to the Gulag and was the origin of Australia. "The Fatal Shore" is the prize-winning, scholarly, brilliantly entertaining narrative that has given its true history to Australia.Hide synopsis
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I bought this book to read while I visited Australia and highly recommend it as explained below.
This is indeed the preeminent work on the early history of Australia. Academic in style and presentation I recommend that a dictionary be at hand. Still, even though it is written by an academic the level of enlightening detail is so awesome that it is a must read if you want to know the real story of Australia.
You will learn the political and social conditions in England that led to the transportation policy, first to the USA, and then after the Revolutionary War, to the far flung ?paradise? of Australia. It is incredible the amount of actual accounts from prisoners, free farmers (immigrants and prisoners whose sentences were completed) and the military and political representatives of the King that are included. Valuable data summaries and 80 plus pages of endnotes provide all the sources you will ever need.
The description of the conditions of the various ?fleets? (the first few are merely referenced by number because they were so notorious), the theft of stores (food and clothing) by the shipping agents and ship crew, the inhumane conditions before and after being shipped of those transported. All this an much, much more. Again, a must read if you want to know about Australia.
Robert Hughes - better known to many as a respected art writer - tackles Australia's early history in The Fatal Shore. Being Australian, it is difficult to view this impartially, but it's a refreshing break from the often misguided painting of early migrants as all being hardworking, salt-of-the-earth people. There's bias and [quite possibly] factual error, but it presents a more fully-fleshed sense of the difficulties of birthing a colony - and a prison one at that.
If you're looking for brutality, cannibalism and a good discussion of the problems found mapping gentility onto a place that was initially configured as an oubliette, this is your book. It's all told with Hughes' typical pugilistic erudition, and is as readily consuming as any airport fiction around.
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