A Commonwealth of Thieves: The Improbable Birth of Australia

A Commonwealth of Thieves: The Improbable Birth of Australia


By (author) Thomas Keneally

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  • Publisher: Waterbrook Press (A Division of Random House Inc)
  • Format: Paperback | 385 pages
  • Dimensions: 132mm x 201mm x 23mm | 272g
  • Publication date: 4 December 2007
  • Publication City/Country: Colorado
  • ISBN 10: 140007956X
  • ISBN 13: 9781400079568
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Illustrations note: maps
  • Sales rank: 108,694

Product description

In this spirited history of the remarkable first four years of the convict settlement of Australia, Thomas Keneally offers us a human view of a fascinating piece of history. Combining the authority of a renowned historian with a brilliant narrative flair, Keneally gives us an inside view of this unprecedented experiment from the perspective of the new colony's governor, Arthur Phillips. Using personal journals and documents, Keneally re-creates the hellish overseas voyage and the challenges Phillips faced upon arrival: unruly convicts, disgruntled officers, bewildered and hostile natives, food shortages, and disease. He also offers captivating portrayals of Aborigines and of convict settlers who were determined to begin their lives anew. "A Commonwealth of Thieves" immerses us in the fledgling penal colony and conjures up the thrills and hardships of those first four improbable years.

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Author information

THOMAS KENEALLY has won international acclaim for his novels "Schindler's List" (the basis for the movie and the winner of the Booker Prize), "The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Confederates, Gossip from the Forest, The Playmaker, Woman of the Inner Sea, A River Town, Office of Innocence, "and "The Tyrant's Novel." His most recent works of nonfiction are "The Great Shame" and "American Scoundrel." He resides in Sydney, Australia.

Review quote

"A readable, anecdote-packed account of a tragic colonial experiment." --"Boston Globe""Superb. . . . Keneally uses his novelist's skill to construct a lively mosaic from contemporary accounts." --"Financial Times""Evocative. . . . Weaving together many individual stories, Keneally paints an impressionistic picture of a society in the making." --"The Washington Post Book World""Keneally deploys his skills as a novelist to give depth to his work as an historian." --"The Economist"