In this widely acclaimed volume, bestselling author Thomas Keneally brings to life the vast range of characters who have formed our national story.Convicts and Aborigines, settlers and soldiers, patriots and reformers, bushrangers and gold seekers, it is from their lives and their stories that he has woven a vibrant history to do full justice to the rich and colourful nature of our unique national character.The story begins by looking at European occupation through Aboriginal eyes as we move between the city slums and rural hovels of eighteenth century Britain and the shores of Port Jackson. We spend time on the low-roofed convict decks of transports, and we see the bewilderment of the Eora people as they see the first ships of turaga, or 'ghost people'. We follow the daily round of Bennelong and his wife Barangaroo, and the tribulations of warrior Windradyne. Convicts like Solomon Wiseman and John Wilson find their feet and even fortune, while Henry Parkes' arrival as a penniless immigrant gives few clues to the national statesman he was to become. We follow the treks of the Chinese diggers - the Celestials - to the goldfields, and revolutionaries like Italian Raffaello Carboni and black American John Joseph bring us the drama of the Eureka uprising.Were the first European mothers whores or matriarchs? How did this often cruel and brutal penal experiment lead to a coherent civil society? Tom Keneally brings to life the high and the low, the convict and the free of early Australian society.This is truly a new history of Australia, by an author of outstanding literary skill and experience, and whose own humanity permeates every page.
Thomas Keneally was born in 1935 and, as well as writing many novels, has shown an increasing interest in producing histories. His history of Irish convictism was entitled The Great Shame and was published in all the English language markets. The same was true of his later work, The Commonwealth of Thieves, which looked upon the penal origins of Australia in a way which sought to make the reader feel close to the experience of individual Aboriginals, convicts and officials. His novels include Bring Larks and Heroes, The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith, Gossip from the Forest, Schindler's Ark. He has the won the Miles Franklin Award, the Booker Prize, the Los Angeles Book Prize, the Royal Society of Literature Prize, the Scripter Award of the University of Southern California, the Mondello International Prize, the Helmerich Prize. He lives in Sydney with his wife, and is Number 1 ticket-holder of the Manly-Warringah Rugby League team.
Winner of ABIA (Australian Book Industry Awards) General Non-fiction Book of the Year 2010 (Australia). Short-listed for Western Australia Premier's Literary Award - Non-fiction 2009 (Australia) and Queensland Premier's Literary Awards (History Book) 2010 (Australia).