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'An extraordinary vivid yet authentic account of the birthpangs of a nation. A work of real distinction' Philip Ziegler

In 1787, the twenty-eigth year of the reign of King George III, the British Government sent a fleet to colonize Australia...
An epic description of the brutal transportation of men, women and children out of Georgian Britain into a horrific penal system which was to be the precursor to the Gulag and was the origin of Australia. The Fatal Shore is the prize-winning, scholarly, brilliantly entertaining narrative that has given its true history to Australia.


An extraordinary, vivid yet authentic account of the birthpangs of a nation. A work of real distinction

Philip Ziegler

A unique phantasmagoria of crime and punishment, which combines the shadowy terrors of Goya with the tumescent life of Dickens

Peter Ackroyd, The Times

Hughes has a story to tell as vivid, large-scale, and appalling as anything by Dickens or Solzhenitsyn, but one that's virtually unknown - until the writing of this splendid book. The Fatal Shore is a great achievement

Susan Sontag

A triumph of research, passion and fine writing. I found it an extraordinary and compelling book to read, one of fantastic scope and imagination; truly a tour de force

William Shawcross

An enthralling account of the convict settlement of Australia, thoroughly researched and excellently written, brimming over with rare and pungent characters, and tales of pathos, bravery, and horror

Peter Matthiessen

Popular history in the best sense...its attention to human detail and its commanding prose call to mind the best work of Barbara Tuchman

Washington Post

With its mood and stature...The Fatal Shore is well on its way to becoming the standard opus on the convict years

Sydney Sunday Telegraph

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    January 2, 2003


    720 pages

    RRP $34.99

    Online retailers

    • Fishpond
    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    July 1, 2010

    Vintage Digital

    720 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks NZ
    • Amazon Kindle NZ
    • Google Play EBook NZ
    • Kobo
    • Booktopia NZ

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