Lees momenteel het boek The Fatal Shore van Robert Hughes. Vond em laatst bij een buurtbiebje, en was vrijwel direct geboeid. Maar ik vind het toch onhandig zo'n dikke pil als paperback. Bovendien wilden mijn ogen niet echt meer met het toch best wel kleine lettertype. Dus maar even online een epub geregeld.

Het boekt vertelt over de geschiedenis van de Britse strafkolonie Australië en de mensen die daarvan deel uitmaakten tussen 1787 en 1868. Wat een onmenselijke wreedheid, zowel voor de mensen die erheen vervoerd werden als de mensen die er al woonden. Maar erg interessant beschreven, ook hoe kleine regionale verschillen in aanpak later grote gevolgen zouden hebben.

Onderstaand citaat beschrijft bijvoorbeeld de kolonisatie Van Diemen’s Land, het huidige Tasmanië.

What saved them both was that inoffensive marsupial, the kangaroo. Kangaroos were plentiful in the bush of Van Diemen’s Land—much more so than they had ever been around Sydney. Every able-bodied man who could use a gun went hunting them, for kangaroo flesh, not bread, was the staff of life. Collins tried to keep the market under strict control. Hunters were obliged to sell the meat to the commissariat store. To convicts and others “on the store,” it was issued free; the usual ration was 8 pounds a week. To settlers living “on their own hands,” its price fluctuated between 6d. and 1s. 6d. a pound. In one six-month period the settlers ate 15,000 pounds of dressed meat from haunches and tails, representing a slaughter of perhaps a thousand ’roos.”

This reliance on hunting brought prompt social results, all of them bad. It installed the gun, rather than the plough, as the totem of survival in Van Diemen’s Land. It favored a mood of opportunism, of social improvidence. Small settlers tended to neglect the long-range pursuits of farming and instead concentrated on killing whatever they could. Before long, the kangaroos around Hobart were hunted out, and men and dogs had to push further into the bush, competing against the Aborigines for game.

Thus, the pattern of ambush and murder between white and black began; it would end, in a few decades, with the near-extermination of the Tasmanian Aborigines. Hunger had put guns in the hands of convicts—and this had never been allowed to happen in New South Wales. It soon created a fringe class of armed, uncontrollable bushmen, most of whom regarded Aborigines as vermin. They would go out for days at a stretch with their “mates” and their kangaroo-dogs (half-wild mongrel lurchers, with jaws like mantraps) and bring back whatever they could corner and kill. Very soon these mountain men of Van Diemen’s Land shed whatever vestiges of obedience they might have felt to the System. They became the first bushrangers.

The Fatal Shore - Robert Hughes
Gepubliceerd 1988-02-12 • 754 pagina's

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • This incredible true history of the colonization of Australia explores how the convict transportation system created the country we know today. "One of the greatest non-fiction books I’ve ever read ... Hughes brings us an entire world." —Los Angeles Times Digging deep into the dark history of England's infamous efforts …

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