Van Diemen’s Land

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Winner of the 2009 Tasmania Book Prize
Winner of the 2008 Colin Roderick Award

Almost half of the convicts who came to Australia came to Van Diemen’s Land. There they found a land of bounty and a penal society, a kangaroo economy and a new way of life.

In this book, James Boyce shows how the convicts were changed by the natural world they encountered. Escaping authority, they soon settled away from the towns, dressing in kangaroo skin and living off the land. Behind the official attempt to create a Little England was another story of adaptation, in which the poor, the exiled and the criminal made a new home in a strange land.

This is their story, the story of Van Diemen’s Land.

Shortlisted in the 2009 Prime Minister's Literary Awards, the 2009 NSW Premier's Literary Awards, the 2010 Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature, the 2008 Age Book of the Year Awards, the 2008 Victorian Premier's Literary Awards, the 2008 Queensland Premier's Literary Awards, the 2008 NSW Premier's History Awards and the 2008 Australian Book Industry Awards

‘A brilliant book and a must-read for anyone interested in how land shapes people.’ —Tim Flannery

‘The most significant colonial history since The Fatal Shore. In re-imagining Australia's past, it invents a new future.’ —Richard Flanagan

‘Like the best history, Van Diemen's Land is not an artfully constructed narrative with the (inevitably inadequate) evidence banished to endnotes, but a dialogue between historian and reader as they explore the fragile sources, and the silences, together.’ —Inga Clendinnen

‘The publication of Van Diemen's Land signals an entirely fresh approach to Australian history-writing … This is a brilliant publication.’ —Alan Atkinson

‘A fresh and sparkling account.’ —Henry Reynolds

James Boyce is the multiple award-winning author of Born Bad, 1835 and Van Diemen’s Land. He has a PhD from the University of Tasmania, where he is an honorary research associate of the School of Geography and Environmental Studies.