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The Fatal Shore: The Epic of Australia's Founding

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The Fatal Shore: The Epic of Australia's Founding Cover

ISBN13: 9780394753669
ISBN10: 0394753666
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Here is history on an epic scale — a riveting, brilliantly written account of the birth of Australia out of the suffering and brutality of England's infamous convict transportation system. Eighty years lay between the landing at Botany Nay in 1788 of the First Fleet ("this Noah's Ark of small-time criminality") — carrying 736 convicts, men and women — and the arrival of the last ship in 1868; during this perios the continent served first as an enormous jail, as England rid herself of a whole unwanted class, and then gradually, painfully transformed itself into a flourishing nation. How this happened, and with what anguish, is the story Robert Hughes tells in The Fatal Shore.

The detail is fascinating. Drawing upon hundreds of original sources — letters, diaries, obscure documents (many of them never used before) — Hughes creates a wonderfully vivid picture of the background of transportation: the squallor and depression behind the gracious facade of Georgian life (in 1797 one in eight Londoners lived by crime), the savage laws designed to deal with the mob.

He brings us the pathos and drama of the months-long voyages, with their poor food and disease and lef-irons...the occasional good doctors and humane captains who tried to make things easier...the wild scenes of debauchery and sadism that often marked the arrivals at Botany Bay.

We see the spread of the prison colonies: Macquaria Harbor and Port Arthur in Van Diemen's Land, Point Puer (a penitentiary for children!), the beautiful and horrible Norfolk Island, so soul-killing that convicts would do anything to get away from it, even draw straws to decide who would commit suicide so that the others might be shipped back to Sydney to be tried for murder. And we hear the stories of those desperate "bolters" who attempted to escape, fleeing into the bush in hope of reaching China, or sailing off to their death in makeshift boats, or turning to cannibalism after weeks of wandering...

Yet a country groes. Tiny settlements sprint up on the edges of the vast, unexplored continent, populated by "iron men" (who could stand repeated floggings) and "sandstone" (who crumbled)...colonial administrators and jail-keepers struggle (and usually fail) to make sense out of an economy founded on slave labor and as backward technologically as Elizabethan England...new aristocrats emerge, aping the social fashions of England, and gradually create a distinctive Australian culture, one that prefers to ignore its orgins. It may be Robert Hughes's most remarkable achievement, in recounting this prodigious, terrible story, to show how its cruelties and evil were matched by its heroism and humanity, how the nation was born out of pain and courage, not dishonor.

A magnificent work of history, The Fatal Shore is written with all the panache and energy of The Shock of the New — original, scrupulously researched, irresistibly readable.

Review:

"[This] beautifully recounted story of the strange origins of the Australian soul is sure to engage a wide American readership." Thomas Keneally, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"A great achievement. Hughes has a story to tell as vivid, large-scale, and appalling as anything by Dickens or Solzhenitsyn, but one that's virtually unknown — until the writing of this splendid book." Susan Sontag

Review:

"A magnificent history, with a richness of detail that is as mesmerizing as it is horrifying....It is both passionate and compassionate." Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post Book World

Review:

"Splendid...Robert Hughes combines the narrative skills of the authors of Mutiny on the Bounty with the sharp eye of a de Tocqueville." Gore Vidal

Review:

"A brilliant and enduring achievement....This enthralling account of Australia's tragic origins is history of the highest order, combining thorough research with vivid narrative and thoughtful assessment." Arthur M. Schlesinger

Synopsis:

The history of the birth of Australia which came out of the suffering and brutality of England's infamous convict transportation system. With 16 pages of illustrations and 3 maps.

Synopsis:

US

About the Author

Robert Hughes was born in Australia in 1938. Since 1970 he has lived and worked in the United States, where until 2001 he was chief art critic for Time, to which he still contributes. His books include The Shock of the New, Nothing If Not Critical, Barcelona, The Culture of Complaint, and American Visions. He is the recipient of a number of awards and prizes for his work.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Gareth, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by Gareth)
A book of extraordinary scholarship, literary polish, and scope which ranges far beyond the history of Australia itself. Virtually every aspect of the economic and social history of 18th and 19th centuries has fresh light thrown on it by Hughes' work, which deserves a very wide audience.
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sassylucylootoo, June 6, 2008 (view all comments by sassylucylootoo)
Based solely on the synopsis given I think this would be a great book to read for an educational aspect as well as the historical aspect. As a homeschooling parent I like to broaden my children's minds with stimulating literature rather than a stuffy old textbook any day. I think this would be a big hit on our resource shelf.
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(3 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780394753669
Author:
Robert Hughes
Publisher:
Vintage Books USA
Author:
Hughes, Robert
Location:
New York :
Subject:
Discovery and exploration
Subject:
History
Subject:
Australia & Oceania
Subject:
Australia/Oceania - Australia
Subject:
Australia
Subject:
Exiles
Subject:
Penal colonies
Subject:
Penal colonies -- Australia -- History.
Subject:
Australia & New Zealand - General
Subject:
Australia & New Zealand - Australia
Subject:
Australia History 1788-1900.
Subject:
World History-Australia and New Zealand
Subject:
history;australia;non-fiction;australian history;convicts;colonialism;19th century;18th century;transportation;england;penal colony;colonization;travel;british history;historical;social history;fiction;world history;exploration;prison;exile;crime;exiles;s
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Vintage
Series Volume:
13
Publication Date:
February 1988
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
TWO 16 PAGE PHOTO INSERTS MAPS
Pages:
752
Dimensions:
8 x 5.1 x 1.51 in 1.5 lb

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Related Subjects


History and Social Science » Australia » General
History and Social Science » World History » Australia and New Zealand
History and Social Science » World History » General
Science and Mathematics » Oceanography » Coasts

The Fatal Shore: The Epic of Australia's Founding Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.95 In Stock
Product details 752 pages Vintage Books,1988, c1986. - English 9780394753669 Reviews:
"Review" by , "[This] beautifully recounted story of the strange origins of the Australian soul is sure to engage a wide American readership."
"Review" by , "A great achievement. Hughes has a story to tell as vivid, large-scale, and appalling as anything by Dickens or Solzhenitsyn, but one that's virtually unknown — until the writing of this splendid book."
"Review" by , "A magnificent history, with a richness of detail that is as mesmerizing as it is horrifying....It is both passionate and compassionate."
"Review" by , "Splendid...Robert Hughes combines the narrative skills of the authors of Mutiny on the Bounty with the sharp eye of a de Tocqueville."
"Review" by , "A brilliant and enduring achievement....This enthralling account of Australia's tragic origins is history of the highest order, combining thorough research with vivid narrative and thoughtful assessment."
"Synopsis" by , The history of the birth of Australia which came out of the suffering and brutality of England's infamous convict transportation system. With 16 pages of illustrations and 3 maps.
"Synopsis" by , US
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