Van Diemen's Land: A History

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Black Inc., 2008 - History - 388 pages

Almost half of the convicts who came to Australia came to Van Diemen's Land. There they found a land of bounty and a penal society, a kangaroo economy and a new way of life.

In this book James Boyce shows how the convicts were changed by the natural world they encountered. Escaping authority, they soon settled away from the towns, dressing in kangaroo-skin and living off the land. Behind the official attempt to create a Little England was another story of adaptation, in which the poor, the exiled and the criminal made a new home in a strange land. This is their story, the story of Van Diemen's Land.

This is a book filled with new facts and new ideas about one of the most dramatic episodes in British colonialism. It tells of changing relations between bushrangers and lieutenant governors, convicts and Aborigines, and the growth of a unique society. Its focus is less on how the convict settlers of Van Diemen's Land changed their new environment, than on how it changed them. The island was not only the convicts' prison, it was their one source of hope.

In Van Diemen's Land, James Boyce goes beyond the history wars to shed new light on the early life of colonial Australia.


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User Review  - booksbooks11 - LibraryThing

This should be required reading for every Tasmanian, if not every Australian. It shatters many myths about early convict life and paints a vivid picture of the early years of the Tasmanian colony ... Read full review



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Page 3 - Much cannot now be done, limited in food and reduced as the people are, who have not had one ounce of fresh animal food since first in the country; a country and place so forbidding and so hateful as only to merit execration and curses...

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