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About the book
  • Published: 19 March 2018
  • ISBN: 9780143790839
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 528
  • RRP: $28.00

The Commonwealth Of Thieves




A brilliant recreation of the first four years of white settlement in Australia by Booker Prize-winning author Tom Keneally.

A brilliant recreation of the first four years of white settlement in Australia by Booker Prize-winning author Tom Keneally.

In 1787, Britain banished its unwanted citizens - uneducated petty thieves, streetwalkers, orphan chimneysweeps and dashing highwaymen - to the fringes of the known world. So remote was Botany Bay - the destination to which the overcrowded, disease-ridden convict ships were bound - that only one European expedition had ever before anchored there.

Yet the rejects of Britain, accompanied only by a flimsy complement of soldiers, marines and officers, were expected to start a settlement and flourish. It was an audacious social experiment, unparalleled before or since.

To the indigenous inhabitants, the white men came as ghosts through cracks in the cosmos, rudely seizing the bounty of land and sea. On the swampy shores of Botany Bay, and by the sandstone coves of Sydney Harbour, the clash of civilisations was ineviteable, intense and often tragic. From this improbable beginning, through famine, drought, escapes and floggings, the glory of modern Sydney was born. Britain's penal experiment succeeded against all odds.

Impeccably researched and told in the inimitable Keneally style, The Commonwealth of Thieves is the compelling tale of a nation's beginning, its unforgettable people and their quest for identity.

  • Pub date: 19 March 2018
  • ISBN: 9780143790839
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 528
  • RRP: $28.00

About the Author

Tom Keneally

Thomas Keneally was born in 1935 and his first novel was published in 1964. Since then he has written a considerable number of novels and non-fiction works. His novels include The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Schindler's List and The People's Train. He has won the Miles Franklin Award, the Booker Prize, the Los Angeles Times Prize, the Mondello International Prize and has been made a Literary Lion of the New York Public Library, a Fellow of the American Academy, recipient of the University of California gold medal, and is now the subject of a 55 cent Australian stamp.

He has held various academic posts in the United States, but lives in Sydney.

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