A Merciless Place

Emma Christopher
AUD $35.00
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Tells the extraordinary story - lost for two centuries - of how a failed British attempt to establish a penal colony in West Africa led to their eventual decision to abandon their African plans and establish a new colony in the recently discovered colony known as New South Wales

This is a story lost to history for over two hundred years; a dirty secret of failure, fatal misjudgement and desperate measures which the British Empire chose to forget almost as soon as it was over.

In the wake of its most crushing defeat, the America War of Independence, the British Government began shipping its criminals to West Africa. Some were transported aboard ships going to pick up their other human cargo: African slaves. When they arrived at their destination, soldiers and even convicts were forced to work in the region's slave-trading forts guarding the human merchandise.

In a few short years the scheme brought death, wholesale desertions, mutiny, piracy and even murder. Some of the most egregious crimes were not committed by the exported criminals but by those sent out to guard them. Acts of wanton desperation added to rash transgressions as those whom society had already thrown out realised that they had nothing left to lose.

As jail and prison hulks overflowed, and as every other alternative settlement proved unsuitable, the British Government gambled and decided to send its criminals as far away as possible, to the great south land sighted years before by Captain James Cook. Out of the embers of the African debacle came the modern nation of Australia.

The extraordinary tale is now being told for the first time - how a small band of good-for-nothing members of the British Empire spanned the world from America, to Africa, and on to Australia, profoundly if utterly unwittingly changing history.

Author bio:

Emma Christopher gained her PhD from University College London in 2002 and has also studied at the University of Pennsylvania and taught at the University of Toronto. She has received grants and fellowships from the British Academy, the Royal Historical Society and Harvard University's Atlantic World Centre. She has also been a Mellon Fellow at the Huntington Library in California, a Caird Fellow at the National Maritime Museum in London and a Paul Cuffe Fellow at Mystic Seaport Museum, Connecticut. She has been a member of Harvard's annual Atlantic World Seminar and attended a UNESCO slave route project in West Africa. She currently holds two Australia Research Council fellowships and is on the faculty of the Department of History at the University of Sydney.

Category: History
ISBN: 9781742372273
Prizes Text: Winner, AHA (Australian Historical Association) Kay Daniels Award , 2012
Short-listed, NSW Premier's History Awards, General History Prize, 2011
Short-listed, QLD Premier's Literary Awards, History Book Award, 2011
Winner, Ernest Scott Prize, 2011
Table Of Contents: CONTENTS

Destinations for Britian's transported convicts, c.1770-1800

West Africa, c.1780-1822

Introduction

1 BOUND FOR AMERICA

2 MR JEFFERSON AND PATRICK MADAN

3 LONDON IN FLAMES

4 THE 'BEST SACRIFICES FOR DEATH'

5 AFRICA

6 THE BATTLE FOR THE COAST

7 DESERTING TO THE ENEMY

8 A PLANTATION WITH SLAVES

9 A MUTINY AND A MOST PECULIAR MURDER

10 TROUBLE AT GOREE ISLAND

11 'NAKED AND DISEASED ON THE SANDY SHORE'

12 TRYING AMERICA AGAIN

13 THE ONCE MIGHTY ARE FALLEN

14 LEMANE ISLAND

15 THE END OF THE AFRICAN DISASTER

Afterword

Acknoweledgements

List of Abbreviations

Notes

Bibliography

Index
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Imprint: Allen & Unwin
Pub Date: August 2010
Page Extent: 456
Format: Paperback - C format
Subject: Australasian & Pacific history

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