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I was fortunate enough to be presented with this book for Christmas. The fact that I'm already posting a review on Boxing Day tells you what a gripping read it is!

 

There are many books about the founding of modern Australia in 1787-1788. Rob Mundle is a practical sailor as well as engaging writer, so writes about what he knows. He lays out the perils involved in the voyages, as well as the founding of the penal colony on what is now Sydney. The saga, interlaced with eye-witness accounts, is a compelling one. 

 

The historical background to the grand plan of transporting convicts from England is clearly sketched out. The First Fleet was remarkably well planned by Captain Arthur Phillip, especially given the politics and bureaucracy of the day. The preparation, the arduous voyage and the difficulties of the earliest days of settlement are vividly described. There are many anecdotes about the convicts and their activities, legal and otherwise. The first contacts with the Aboriginal population are also described, as well as the conflicts that arose. 

 

There are lengthy appendices with lists of seamen, marines and officers on the different ships in the fleet, as well as an alphabetical listing of the convicts, their ages and offences, sentences, occupation (if any!) and the ship they were assigned to.

 

All in all, a book I thoroughly recommend.

 

The First Fleet, Rob Mundle, ABC Books/Harper Collins Australia Pty Limited

 

 ISBN 978 0 7333 3236 4 (Hardback)

 ISBN 978 1 4607 0062 4 (ebook)

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Russ: no formal bibliography, but various works are cited in the author's foreword. There is also a good glossary of nautical terms (probably unnecessary for this audience!) at the back of the book which I should also have mentioned.

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