The Fatal Shore. The epic of Australia's founding by Robert Hughes is a history of the birth of Australia which came out of the suffering and brutality of England's infamous convict transportation system. It also focuses on the historical, political and sociological reasons that led to British settlement. It was originally published in 1986 by Alfred A. Knopf in the USA and by William Collins in the UK, and subsequently published in the UK by Collins Harvill in 1987. The Folio Society in the UK published a slipcased premium edition in 1998, extending to a 4th printing in 2006.
The main themes of the book are:
the historical, political and social reasons that led to transportation to Australia
the hardships of the voyage and of the early years of the colony
established colonies and the moves toward abolition
Scholarly in the depth of its research, The Fatal Shore has been prized for the fine quality of its writing, particularly in evoking the harshness of life experienced both by convicts and would-be escapers.