Friday, August 20, 2010

Van Diemen's Land

... by James Boyce. I just finished reading this excellent book.

With a family connection to the earliest days of the colony, this book is exactly what I needed to understand life in the early years.

The history of the island of Tasmania is fascinating yet tragic. For the first time I became aware of individual Tasmanian aboriginals, such as Mannalargenna, whose “influence amongst his people was great. He was universally admired by all the native tribes who knew him as being the most able and successful warrior of the Aborigines.” This was written by George Robinson, who I remember learning about when I was in [Lenah Valley] primary school. Robinson had been portrayed to me as simply someone who attempted to round up the Aborigines, but with little success. James Boyce demonstrates the critical role this materialistic, self-centred individual played in the demise of the Tasmanian Aborigines. Boyce also highlights how the convicts were induced to do much of the killing and how securing the material wealth of relatively few large land owners was a crucial driver of the Governor’s policies.

Thank you, James Boyce, for a fresh perspective on the social environment of those early years. Australians can grow by reading your book, which should become a mandatory high school text book.

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