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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sets The Standard
"The Fatal Shore" by Robert Hughes is the one book which is always mentioned when it comes to books about the history of Australia, and for good reason. Hughes' brilliant work covers in great detail the transportation of criminals from England to Australia, and the history of those penal colonies. He also deals with the historical figures and events which impacted those...
Published on 5 Aug 2008 by Dave_42

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39 of 45 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Emancipists and Currency
The Fatal Shore is a thorough investigation into the convict system between Great Britain and Australia with a strong slant from the perspective of the convicts themselves through letters written home as well as the use of documentary evidence.
Robert Hughes has clearly researched the subject matter in intricate detail and the end product is a fascinating insight...
Published on 2 Sep 2003 by Mr. Dr. Washbrook


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5.0 out of 5 stars The Fatal Shore, 2 Oct 2012
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This review is from: The Fatal Shore (Paperback)
An excellent, in-depth, well researched book. It presents the reader with a wealth of detailed information about the way in which Australia developed from its initial almost accidental choice as a penal colony for those unfortunate English men and women who became branded as criminals and were sentenced to transportation. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fatal Shore is an Eye-opener., 22 Sep 2012
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This review is from: The Fatal Shore (Kindle Edition)
The Fatal Shore is a must-read for those who think the English have ever been a civilised nation. Beginning with a survey of life for the Georgian working-class, it's unemployment, it's treatment by the law and what can only sarcastically be described as "justice", Robert Hughes continues with his history of the eighty years of Transportation to Australia by outlining the discovery of the continent by Cook, and the eventual arrival of The First Fleet in 1788. The apparent necessity to empty the prison hulks of England into the unknown New South Wales is explored and analysed, with a scholarly and occasionally acerbic tone. The gratuitous sadism of the life led by the convicts, especially in Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania) and on Norfolk Island is horrifically described, as is the way women were.treated. The governors of the territory are shown to be gutless martinets mostly, with a couple of exceptions. Anyone who has ever wondered why so much in Australia is named MacQuarie will find the answer in these pages.Hughes also explores the illogicality of Transportation. This is a truly excellent work of history.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thought changing read, 13 Sep 2012
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This review is from: The Fatal Shore (Paperback)
Took this book on holiday in August 2012 and could not put it down. Shocked at the facts but it certainly puts life in the current day into perspective. It is a fascinating insight into what you would consider relatively recent history, and an thought provoking read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable, 11 Sep 2012
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E. McLachlan (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fatal Shore (Paperback)
Very readable, a lot of historical facts woven into a compelling story. The book addresses quite a few misconceptions about Australia's convict colonisation, and does so with good, sourced backup. An interesting, enlightening and enjoyable read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars detailed and fascinating, 1 Sep 2012
This review is from: The Fatal Shore (Paperback)
A fabulous book. Full of historical detail and heart rending stories. I have read it repeatedly and can't recommend it enough to anyone with even a passing interest in the subject.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and educational, 3 July 2012
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For any one interested in the period when Britain transported its convicts to Australia, this is a must read book. It's clear and concise explanation is written with a wide audience in mind. Everyone could learn something from this book, and enjoy it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing and brilliant. A comprehensive history of Australian penal servitude, 4 Aug 2014
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D. Glowacki (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fatal Shore (Paperback)
Absorbing and brilliant.A comprehensive history of Australian penal servitude,yet it is also humane and pragmatic.An essential read from one of Australia's true intellectuals,Robert Hughes.to give us all a valuable and accurate insight into Australia's colonial evolution..
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fatal Shore, 25 Feb 2007
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Mr. R. A. Matthews (England) - See all my reviews
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A great insight into the "indeliable stain". An insight into the darker side of colonial history which has gone largely unnoticed in academic life today. Hughes pays great attention to detail which can clearly be seen through his extensive research, highlighted by his footnotes. An excellent read, well worth the money.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 31 Aug 2014
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Mrs. K. Rowan (Leicestershire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fatal Shore (Paperback)
brilliant book. very easy to read and full of interesting and shocking stories.
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17 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A History of British Brutality, 11 Aug 2006
By 
Mr. L. J. Atterbury (PILA Poland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fatal Shore (Paperback)
Robert Hughes "The Fatal Shore" is a compelling, readable, and meticuously documented account of the settlement of Australia. More than that, it provides within that harrowing story a picture of 18th and 19th Century penal attitudes the biases and prejudices of which can still,too often, be recognised in contemporary penal practice. In particular, the story of Alexander Moconochie's reforms on Norfolk Island, and their rejection, is a tale of overwhelming tragedy.

This cruel and bitter saga is yet another illustration of a recurring theme in British history, of how the protection of the wealth and property of a few has always had priority over the common good. The multiplication of capital offences under George 111, and his brutal penal regime, did little to deter the poverty stricken agricultural and industrial labourers of that era. The greatest fear of the industrial capitalists and the wealthy landowners was a revolution of the dispossessed, and to transport this threat to the other side of the globe, and so eliminate it, was the safest way to secure the status quo. Although Hughes does not labour this point he does vividly show how the demonisation of a class, and the extreme brutality that accompanied it, led to a penal system that lasted for more than half a century. For convicts to resist the thuggery of the State was futile, but to resist, and so suffer more brutality, was, ironically,the only way to retain the last flickering of humanity and personal integrity.

The book is a timely reminder that the core values that have shaped British history have changed little, and demonisation is still used to protect and sustain political and corporate interests.

A stimulating, readable, and masterly account of the British Gulag and of those who suffered in the grip of its iron fist. Highly recommended.
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