I found this book to be something of a disappointment. No because of anything this book is, but because of what I thought it was going to be. This migI found this book to be something of a disappointment. No because of anything this book is, but because of what I thought it was going to be. This might (probably is) be a bit unfair, but it did colour my final impressions of the book so it's worth discussing what exactly this book is.
This book is a history of the initial settlement of Australia, covering the conditions in England that caused the settlement, the abortive landing at Botany Bay, the eventual removal of the expedition to Port Jackson (now better known as Sydney Harbour) and the early days of the settlement itself, its initial relationships with the native aboriginal tribes, the settlement and Norfolk island, and the hardships they all suffered - up until the departure of the first Governor, Phillip, from the still tenuous colony.
That's what it covers, and _only_ that. In a book that covers the birth of Australia, I expected more. For instance, the least I had expected would be covered was the establishment of the second Australia penal colony in Van Deimen's Land which was in many ways more successful (no convicts ever escaped Van Diemen's land, something which could not be said for Sydney... escaped from the prisons occasionally, but even the infamous Cash never made it over Bass Strait). I grew up on stories of the convict days of Port Arthur - mainly because I grew up a few hours drive _from_ Port Arthur and have visited the site many times - and am myself a descendant of First Fleet convicts, so I was really looking forward to hearing more about those early days.
Whilst I understand wanting to constrain scope in a book of this kind, the fact that a second colony was planted was not even mentioned in this book. Van Diemen's Land was only ever mentioned in the briefest of passing, as a waypoint on a sea journey bound for elsewhere, or to note that it's name was later changed to reflect the name of one of the early explorers to discover it (to Tasmania).
Perhaps I will just have to hope that Thomas Keneally writes another book, in which we will hear about other topics not discussed, such as Port Arthur and the Rum Rebellion - in which the New South Wales Corp rose up against the governor, one infamous William Bligh.
Keneally does approach this subject with rigour, and with a sympathetic unromantic view of both the early settlers, the natives of the time, and the relationship between them. Few topics are as explosive in Australian culture as this one, on a par with discussions of slavery in American history, and too often it is either glossed over entirely, or painted with a tragic or romantic vision of a utopian native society that exists no-where outside of the imagination of overactive white guilt, and actually does a disservice to a fascinating and fast disappearing culture. Keneally avoids both extremes, and provides quite an insightful modern look and analysis not only of what the natives likely thought and tried to do when these "ghosts" came to their shores and stayed, but also of the misapprehensions of the immigrant English led to initial misunderstandings and set the stage for what would be a long history of intermittent conflict and peaceful existence between the two groups.
This book could almost be a partial biography of the first governor of New South Wales, Phillip, ending as it does as he walks off the Australian stage, and indeed it would be difficult to overstate the effect this intelligent, empathetic and compassionate man had both on the initial colony and the nation as a whole right through to today. Keneally paints him as a complicated figure, and though he hasn't been mythologised in Australian culture the way that American founding fathers have, perhaps through his careful planning, his constant outreach and attempts to brook understanding between the native tribes and the settlers, and his fair treatment of the people under his charge, his focus on hard and honest work, he may well have set in place the structure for everything that is good about our own national character.
Through his tireless efforts, Phillip laid the groundwork for a nation of larrikans, ockers and laughter to arise from the initial commonwealth of thieves.
For what it is, excellently done and well narrated. I wanted more, but that doesn't take away from the excellence of what is there. ...more
If you have even the slightest interest in roleplaying games, and particularly the history - what games have there been, what companies, and how theyIf you have even the slightest interest in roleplaying games, and particularly the history - what games have there been, what companies, and how they affected the development of the hobby that is beloved world wide - then you owe it to yourself to look into this series.
A recent kickstarter success, this is the first volume in the expansion of Appelcine's definitive history to a full four volume set - each volume focused on a decade in the history of roleplaying games, and the companies that were founded during that decade.
This first volume, focusing on the 70's and the initial birth of roleplaying games, is worth the price of admission alone. Included in this volume are companies and individuals that are well known to all fans of early roleplaying - TSR, GDW, Judge's Guild, Chaosium, Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson, Marc Miller. The facts are meticulously well researched and supported by primary sources collected and contacted over years, and the stories inside are a fascinating look at the games that redefined popular culture for generations of imaginative gamers.
A well researched look at the fascinating history of the "other" Norman conquest, from the initial influx of the Normans as mercenaries, through the rA well researched look at the fascinating history of the "other" Norman conquest, from the initial influx of the Normans as mercenaries, through the rise of the de Hautvilles, to the eventual founding of the Kingdom of Sicily.
Some of the periods covered are not well documented in history, and certainly not very well known, and few of the primary or even secondary sources covering the period have never been translated into English. This work by the eminent historian John Julius Norwich is an excellent work for anyone interested in the remarkable, if not always particularly likeable, people who made South Italy their home and forged it into something great....more
An excellent, and concise at only 96 pages, summary of the second Punic war from it's initial encounters through to the titular battle of Cannae, theAn excellent, and concise at only 96 pages, summary of the second Punic war from it's initial encounters through to the titular battle of Cannae, the height of Hannibal's power at 216. Very little is said of the following years leading to Hannibal's recall to Africa and his defeat at the hands of Scipio Africanus, but this shouldn't be surprising given the tight focus of the book itself.
The coverage of the early war and it's major battles and personages is brief, but succinct and usable, and the comments on the personal situations of the primary source writers of this era make for illuminating reading (Livy and Polybius mainly). The battle of Cannae itself is very well described, with full colour diagrams displaying the troop formations at various stages of the battle, an in depth discussion of the likely troop makeup and size of each army (Hannibal was outnumbered by 2:1 or more) and the tactics being employed on both sides that led to Hannibal's most famous victory.
Highly recommended to any fans of ancient or military history, particularly anyone with an interest in the Republican Rome period, as the battles with Hannibal in Italy resulted in a significant shift in the Roman mindset and was a major milestone in a lot of ways on the transition from citizen republic to Roman Empire....more
An excellent, succinct summary of the three Punic wars and the context in which they took place; accompanied by a reasonably sized reading list for anAn excellent, succinct summary of the three Punic wars and the context in which they took place; accompanied by a reasonably sized reading list for anyone who wants to learn more. Good for anyone who wants a big picture viewed how the strategic and operational objectives and situations led to the defeat of Carthage and the extinction of their entire race....more
Whilst at time dry due to the author quoting (important) numbers and statistics, this book is an unparalleled look at the entire second world war fromWhilst at time dry due to the author quoting (important) numbers and statistics, this book is an unparalleled look at the entire second world war from a previously unexplored point of view - that of Thomas J. Watson and his company, IBM.
Watson wore many hats over the course of the war - Industrialist, Peace Activist, War-monger, Decorated Nazi hero, American Patriot and, potentially, un-charged war criminal. His company, under his careful and precise micro management, provided the technology, training and resources to orchestrate not only the holocaust itself, but the entire war and occupation efforts. Whilst the Nazi's certainly would have oppressed, tortured and killed without his help, it soon becomes obvious that without IBM technology, genocide on such a scale as Hitler wished would never have been possible.
This was a terrifying and deplorable tale of greed and capitalism taken to its logical conclusion; raking in enormous profits over the bodies of the dead, whilst beating whatever drum the public wanted to hear to keep themselves separate and apart from the many other companies who eventually had to stand trial for the crimes they committed. ...more