A Commonwealth of Thieves by THOMAS KENEALLY

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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.

From the Trade Paperback edition.


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Thomas Keneally began his writing career in 1964 and has published twenty-five novels since. They include Schindler’s List, which won the Booker Prize in 1982, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Confederates, and Gossip from the Forest, all of which were shortlisted for the Booker Prize. He has also written several works of nonfiction, including his boyhood memoir Homebush Boy, The Commonwealth of Thieves, and Searching for Schindler. He is married with two daughters and lives in Sydney, Australia.
Published December 4, 2007 by Anchor. 400 pages
Genres: History, Biographies & Memoirs, Business & Economics, Travel. Non-fiction

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A celebrated novelist (Schindler's List, 1982, etc.) and historian (American Scoundrel, 2002, etc.) writes the early history of the English settlers--the convicts and their keepers--of his native Australia.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of A Commonwealth of Thieves

The New York Times

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Thomas Keneally looks at Australia’s origins as a land of petty crooks and ne’er-do-wells.

Oct 01 2006 | Read Full Review of A Commonwealth of Thieves

Publishers Weekly

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Keneally (Schindler's List ) offers a novelistic chronicle of the founding of the colony now known as Australia, focusing on the first five years, 1788 to 179

Aug 07 2006 | Read Full Review of A Commonwealth of Thieves

USA Today

Thomas Keneally's excellent new book, A Commonwealth of Thieves, presents the story of how the British government, faced with a swelling prison population, decided to remedy the problem by dispatching convicts to a settlement at the end of the known world: Australia, or New South Wales as it was ...

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