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Irish Wattle in the press

We’re delighted to be reviewed in the May 2010 issue of Labour History, the journal of the Business and Labor History Group at the University of Sydney. Here’s an extract from the review of The Irish Vanguard:

Biographical details about these unfortunate travellers and their shipmates have been pieced together by Barbara Hall in this fifth in her series of books about convicts on the five ships sent from Ireland before 1800. The book is structured as a biographical dictionary with an entry for each convict. Hall counts as her major achievement ‘the collating and publishing, for the first time, of a large number of trials and/or crimes’. I would add as an equally important contribution her painstaking pursuit of what happened after they disembarked…

Barbara Hall’s study of convicts on the Queen makes a valuable contribution to understanding Australia’s earliest days of settlement by turning our attention to individual men and women who had not come of their own free will to a land they experienced as wilderness, but many of whom nevertheless took to the life of the pioneer and brought up families whose descendants are now interested in their stories. For academic historians following patterns as well as individuals, these biographical outlines offer texture and detail. The unevenness of the sources, the scarcity of information, are themselves reminders of how precarious the original venture really was – especially for those whose survival depended on navigating through both the convict system and the strangeness of an utterly foreign place.

Thanks for the terrific review!

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