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Dancing with Strangers: Europeans and Australians at First Contact
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Dancing with Strangers: Europeans and Australians at First Contact

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  105 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
In January 1788, the First Fleet arrived in New South Wales, Australia and a thousand British men and women encountered the people who would be their new neighbors. Dancing with Strangers tells the story of what happened between the first British settlers of Australia and these Aborigines. Inga Clendinnen interprets the earliest written sources, and the reports, letters an ...more
Paperback, 346 pages
Published June 1st 2005 by Cambridge University Press (first published March 1st 2005)
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James Kane
Sep 15, 2013 James Kane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love studying history. I love it so much that I devote most of my weekdays to it; so much that I spend a good chunk of my spare time and weekends trying to learn languages to help me with it; so much that I can maybe, just maybe, see myself doing it for the rest of my life. But in the nine years since I began studying it with a serious interest (in Year 11 at high school), I have never found a book on history that I couldn't put down - until now.

To be fair, Inga Clendinnen's Dancing with Stra
Craig Munro
Dec 15, 2011 Craig Munro rated it it was amazing
Engrossing and often dramatic narrative of the first few years of contact between white settler-invaders and the fish-dependent Eora people of the harbour. Competition for survival became almost as fraught as the continuing struggle for linguistic and cultural comprehension. This collision of world-views formed the basis of early colonial Sydney where the violent repression of convicts shocked and disgusted the Eora.
In Dancing with Strangers Inga Clendinnen, tells of the meeting between the British First Fleet and the Aboriginal Australians in 1788. It is a story of confusion, lack of understanding and ignorance on both sides. However an air of tolerance seems to have prevailed and good will on both sides meant that for the first few years both the native Autralians and the convict colony managed to exist side by side. Much of the early success is due to Commander /Governor Phillip's determination to reach ...more
Tanya Tyson
Oct 10, 2012 Tanya Tyson rated it really liked it
Shelves: heritage
I found this account of early 'contact' history to be quite enjoyable; easy to read, interestingly written and balanced. Although I didn't agree with all of the authors conclusions I found it refereshing to find an author on Australian history that at least has a go at trying to deduce some of the motives of the Aboriginal people rather than just parrot the assumptions made by earlier writers. Above all else it encourages the reader to have a think for themselves and even provides good notes as ...more
Aug 03, 2011 Linda rated it really liked it
Shelves: australiana
An excellent ,well written book about the settlement of Australia based on original letters and journals. I found this book very interesting and easy to read. Each chapter is based on a person,event or some type of issue very logically presented. It did help that I had read several other books about the same era but this is by far the best. Her descriptions and attention to detail were major strengths. I will now seek out some of her other works re Mayan and Aztec civilizations.
Feb 02, 2017 Terry rated it liked it
I quite enjoyed this book. Having read a fair amount previously on the same subject I found it added additional information. A bit repetitive at times and almost becomes a work of fiction. A lot of bias towards the "Australians" that I had never read about before. The author makes it clear from the start that the Aborigines must be called Australians but writes often about the British being called "Sydney whites". A bit to PC for me but worth the time to read.
I first came across Inga Clendinnen while watching the SBS documentary series, First Australians. At the time I was struck by the sensitivity she displayed in her historical analysis, maintaining an ability to be empathetic and compassionate while remaining dispassionate and objective.

This quality shines through in Dancing with Strangers , Clendinnen's attempt to reach an understanding of the nature of the relationship between the British colonisers of the First Fleet and the indigenous people
les zephyrman
Jun 04, 2015 les zephyrman rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
Inga Clendinnen is an Australian historian who has largely written about the Spanish conquest of the Americas, but her ideas about imperial conflict and her anthropological approach to culture have translated well to this narrative about the relationship between the British and the Australians. The book is organised in a roughly chronological manner, but emphasises concepts - such as sexual politics, punishment, and habitation - over a strict focus on the timeline. Her main sources are the journ ...more
Nov 10, 2012 Andrew rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Why do cultures clash? How did the racism that eventually characterized the British views of the Native Australians emerge? How did the Aborigines interpret (and misinterpret) British behavior and visa versa? And what can be generalized from the early colonization of Australia by the British to understand the world today?

Dancing with Strangers examines these questions using the the written records of the British leaders of the Sydney colony. What makes this book particularly interesting is that
Jess Tait
Oct 05, 2012 Jess Tait rated it it was ok
Rather dry text on the first years of the First Fleet's arrival and their relationship with Aboriginal Australia. Relying heavily on European documentation and then making educated guesses as to the Aboriginal perspective, I couldn't help but wonder whether having the input of one of our first people would've improved the text. Still, an interesting read in cultural differences. Particularly the horror felt by Aboriginals on behalf of the mistreatment of any human being re the British punishment ...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
Mar 23, 2008 Jennifer (JC-S) rated it really liked it
Shelves: librarybooks
I read this book because Ginnie's review caught my attention. I will write my own review, when I've had a chance to mull over what I've read. There are a number of positive signs at the political level that we will move ahead together. Understanding elements of our past is an important step in this process.
Jan 03, 2008 Caro rated it liked it
This is a great book for people who want to learn about early Australian and British relations and how they have influenced race relations in modern Australia.
Sep 27, 2012 Nina rated it liked it
Not bad for a history textbook. Definitely provides interesting insight on the first meetings between the people two very different cultures.
Jul 10, 2007 Jane rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in Australian history
Shelves: australian
Clear, easy to read and with many interesting insights. However, I didn't feel it offered a lot more than the fictional 'The Timeless Land', which was based on the same historic material.
Dani Ringrose
Dani Ringrose rated it really liked it
Dec 02, 2016
Liz Wager
Aug 02, 2011 Liz Wager rated it it was ok
too serious for my current mood -- I'll try it again later
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Anne Harsanyi
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Mar 31, 2013
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Todd Webb
Todd Webb rated it it was amazing
Mar 02, 2013
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