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With the authority of a renowned historian and the narrative grace of a brilliant novelist, Thomas Keneally offers an insider's perspective into the dramatic saga of the birth of a vibrant society in an unfamiliar land. A Commonwealth of Thieves immerses us in the fledgling penal colony and conjures up colorful scenes of the joy and heartbreak, the thrills and hardships that characterized those first four improbable years.
"Keneally has all the gifts of a great storyteller: a curious eye, a clear voice, worldly knowledge, and an innocent, inexhaustible heart." (San Francisco Chronicle)
"Keneally is joyfully inquisitive. He enters naturally and sympathetically into the hearts of his protagonists - his own prose takes on the flavour of the period he invokes." (Times Literary Supplement)
"Keneally's atmospheric and descriptive powers are formidable." (Boston Globe)
"Keneally has a gift for heroic stories." (Washington Post)
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Eric Pietz on 01-30-09
Very detailed. Paints a vivid picture.
I wanted to read this book because I was curious about the birth of Australia as a penal colony. The book does a good job explaining the state of the penal system in 18th century britain, the types of convicts sentenced to transportation and the journey to the other side of the earth. There is good description of the landing at botany bay and sydney cove, the interactions with the aboriginies and the provisions on land but this book is screaming to be abridged. I feel like these 12 hours could have been wrapped up in 6.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
By Dan on 08-23-07
Interesting tidbits, but slow overall
This book tells the story of the founding settlement of Australia, with detailed descriptions of the English penal system, details of maritime life, famines and other issues faced by the settlers, and the interactions with aboriginal tribes.
While I normally consume such historical novels, I found this one pretty tedious and slow. The narrative just never really seemed to pick up steam. Still, I did learn a decent amount about early Australia, which is worth something.
6 of 10 people found this review helpful