Australia is the only modern society to have begun as a dedicated penal settlement. It was an experiment that should have ended like others of its kind in a stew of murder, rebellion and starvation. In this compelling, vivid and moving recreation of the first four years of 'the Sydney experiment', Tom Keneally examines how a motley 'thief colony' exiled by England as incapable of civilised development, not only survived, but flourished into a sophisticated modern society. History at its surprising and gripping best.
THOMAS KENEALLY won the Booker Prize in 1982 with SCHINDLER'S ARK, later made into the Academy Award-winning film SCHINDLER'S LIST by Steven Spielberg. He has written eleven works of non-fiction, including THREE FAMINES and his recent memoir SEARCHING FOR SCHINDLER, and the histories THE COMMONWEALTH OF THIEVES, THE GREAT SHAME and AMERICAN SCOUNDREL, and 29 works of fiction, including THE PEOPLE'S TRAIN, THE WIDOW AND HER HERO (both shortlisted for the Prime Minister's Literary Award), AN ANGEL IN AUSTRALIA and BETTANY'S BOOK. His novels THE CHANT OF JIMMY BLACKSMITH, GOSSIP FROM THE FOREST, and CONFEDERATES were all shortlisted for the Booker Prize, while BRING LARKS AND HEROES and THREE CHEERS FOR THE PARACLETE won the Miles Franklin Award. His most recent novel THE PEOPLE'S TRAIN was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Award and shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize, South East Asia division.