The Fatal Shore Paperback – 2 Jan 2003
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"A unique phantasmagoria of crime and punishment, which combines the shadowy terrors of Goya with the tumescent life of Dickens" (Peter Ackroyd, The Times)
"A triumph of research, passion and fine writing. I found it an extraordinary and compelling book to read, one of fantastic scope and imagination; truly a tour de force" (William Shawcross)
"Riveting" (The Book Magazine)
"With its mood and stature...The Fatal Shore is well on its way to becoming the standard opus on the convict years" (Sydney Sunday Telegraph)
"An enthralling account of the convict settlement of Australia, thoroughly researched and excellently written, brimming over with rare and pungent characters, and tales of pathos, bravery, and horror" (Peter Matthiessen)
'An extraordinarily vivid yet authentic account of the birthpangs of a nation. A work of real distinction' Philip ZieglerSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Prior to this work, Robert Hughes had authored books on art, and is generally known as an art critic and a documentary maker. This work of history seems to be an unusual diversion from his typical interests, but as he explains in his introduction, it was while doing a series of documentaries on Australian art which took him to Port Arthur that he realized that he knew little of his country's convict past. His documentary work undoubtedly played a key role in his making this one of the more readable histories there is, and led to "The Fatal Shore" becoming an international best-seller.
He starts by discussing the conditions in England which led to the transportation of criminals to the opposite side of the world, the theories about there being a "criminal class", and the loss of the Americas as a dumping ground for British criminals. Another key point is the sentencing which was used at the time which resulted in people with a wide variety of criminal convictions, from petty theft to murder all being selected, without regard to whether or not they would be able to provide any valuable service to the colonies which were to be created.
Next Hughes discusses the first fleet, from the difficult passage, both for prisoners and free people, to the arrival and the dealings with the Aborigines to the difficult first years of the colony; it is an engaging tale which reads like a novel.Read more ›
I'm sure that this book will be an invaluable resource for those studying or interested in the transportation process and Australian history in general.
While the main focus is on the penal colonies, the book opens with fascinating insights into both the Aboriginal group around Sydney harbour at the time and also the Georgian "Working" and "criminal" class. Both of which give depth and range to the subject at hand.
Being a history teacher myself I can recommend this book for teachers who are looking for something new and interesting to spice up the industrial revolution. And for the general reader I would recommend this book as a fascinating and balanced insight into a very different world. One that is both part of and a world away from the Georgian world we so often hear about.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Really enjoyed this book. Read while living in Tasmania and learning this history of the land has been fascinating. Read morePublished 1 month ago by R. Manners
Replacement for a well read copy. An enthralling read, well written and illustrated.Published 1 month ago by GEOFF RACKHAM
A magnum opus on European Australian history. This book, or at least an abridged version of it should be part of every Australian school curriculumPublished 3 months ago by 333jjj
Made so much more of my trip to Australia with this amazingly well researched and entertaining (sometimes horrific) account of the reason for and development of the colonies down... Read morePublished 4 months ago by smmm
One of the best reads that I have ever come across, it is mind blowing in its portrayal of the how Australia was colonized by the poor unfortunates that were sent there.Published 6 months ago by keegan Wilma
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