Australia's Birthstain: The Startling Legacy of the Convict Era

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Allen & Unwin, 2008 - Australia - 400 pages
Publisher's description: Why is it that Australians are still misled by myths about their convict heritage? Why are so many family historians surprised to find a convict ancestor in their family trees? Why did an entire society collude to cover up its past? Babette Smith traces the stories of hundreds of convicts over the 80 years of convict transportation to Australia. Putting a human face on the convicts' experience, she paints a rich picture of their crimes in Britain and their lives in the colonies. We know about Port Arthur, Norfolk Island, chaingangs and floggings, but this was far from the experience of most. In fact, most convicts became good citizens and the backbone of the new nation. So why did we need to hide them away? Australia's Birthstain rewrites the story of Australia's convict foundations, revealing the involvement of British politicians and clergy in creating a birthstain that reached far beyond convict crimes. Its startling conclusion offers a fresh perspective on our past.
 

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Contents

Something to Hide
Amnesia
An Amazing Cast of Characters
A Convict Community
Outward Bound
The Bathurst Road
An Unclean Thing
A Pervading Stain
Distinctions of Moral Breed
The Lost World
Acknowledgements
Notes
Bibliography
Index
Back flap
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About the author (2008)

Babette Smith is the author of The Luck of the Irish: How a Shipload of Convicts Survived the Wreck of the Hive to Make a New Life in Australia which won a NSW Premier History Award 2015 in the category of NSW Community and Regional History. The prize carries a monetary award of $15,000.

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