#AtoZChallenge S is for Stasiland by Anna Funder

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

Summary

Stories from behind the Berlin Wall.

Shortly after the Berlin Wall fell, in 1989, East Germany ceased to exist, after the reunification of East and West Germany.  In Stasiland, Anna Funder tells the amazing tales of what life had been like in the former East Germany.

Anna Funder was working in Berlin, when she became interested in the fall of the Berlin Wall. She placed an advertisement in the newspapers, inviting people to be interviewed by her, about their experiences at the time. As a result, Funder met with both ordinary people, trying to survive, and members and ex members of the Stasi. The stories they told were truly intriguing and shocking.

“In this land
I have made myself sick with silence
In this land
I have wandered, lost
In this land
I hunkered down to see
What will become of me.
In this land
I held myself tight
So as not to scream.
-But I did scream, so loud
That this land howled back at me
As hideously
As it builds its houses.
In this land
I have been sown
Only my head sticks
Defiant, out of the earth
But one day it too will be mown
Making me, finally
Of this land.
-Charlie’s poem”
Anna Funder, Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall

 

‘’Peter Fechter, the eighteen-year- old shot trying to escape in 1962 and left to die on the death strip, because each side thought the other would retaliate if they went to help him. Someone has thrown him a roll of bandages, but he lies immobile and bleeding.’’ – Stasiland

My Thoughts

I am a fan of Anna Funder’s novels, but her writing and the subject matter of Stasiland, touched me to the core. The stories in Stasiland read more like fiction, but because they are true, the harrowing nature of the stories some had to tell, are both horrifying and unimaginable.  This is a book I will definitely read again, but it had such a huge affect on me that I need a little space between the first and second reading.

Stasiland is extremely powerful writing at it’s best. I found it was like a punch to the stomach to read about the suffering that should never have happened. Anna Funder does not mince words at all. She tells it as it was, as  she takes us to the falling of the wall, which is earth shattering and very real to the reader.  The consequences of the fall and subsequent stories we read about the people who were living behind the wall at the time, are unforgettable.

Even though the subject matter is very heavy and dark and extremely sad, there are also many funny and bizarre moments to balance out the darkness. and unhappiness.

Recommendation

‘Anna Funder explores, in the most humane and sensitive way, lives blighted by the East German Stasi. She allows ex-Stasi operatives an equal chance to reflect on their achievements, and finds—to her dismay and ours—that they have learned nothing.’
— J. M. Coetzee, author

‘Stasiland is a brilliant account of the passionate search for a brutal history in the process of being lost, forgotten and destroyed. It is a masterpiece of investigative analysis, written almost like a novel, with a perfect mix of compassion and distance.’
– Elena Lappin, Sunday Times

My Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

About The Author

Anna Funder

 

Anna Funder was born in Melbourne in 1966. She has worked as an international lawyer for the Australian Government, focusing on human rights and constitutional law. She grew up in Melbourne and Paris and now lives in Sydney with her family.

Published in 2004 by Granta Books.
Paperback, 288 pages


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#AtoZChallenge R is for Ransacking Paris by Patti Miller

 

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter R

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

Summary

Patti Miller was a mother of adult boys, when she arrived in Paris,  where she intended to write for a year. She felt as though all her dreams had come true. In her words: ‘As if the light that comes after the sun has gone down, has spilled gold on everything’.

Patti grew up on Wiradjuri land in rural Australia, where she had a happy childhood and where her heart and soul still belonged. But she asked herself what she thought she would find in Paris that she couldn’t find at home. How could she feel a sense of belonging in this city made up of centuries of other peoples stories?

To find out, Miller jumps between the reality of her world, and the fantasty of chatting with French writers of the past, Montaigne, Rousseau, de Beauvior, and other memoirists.  They travel with her through the streets of Paris, and have coffee with her, as she chats to them about their lives, discusses with them, the important things in life – family, love, suffering, desire, motherhood, truth telling, memory and how we discover who we are in the world, and our relationship to place and identity.

This is the story of Patti Miller’s year in Paris, in 2005, where she writes her memoir and discovers who she is in the world.

‘This great world of ours is the looking glass in which we must gaze to come to know ourselves from the right slant’ – Michel de Montaigne

My Thoughts

The format of Ransacking in Paris is a chapter for each month of the year that Patti Miller is in Paris, which to me really worked. I  loved the way she wove her memories sentimentally into her thoughts today and into her conversations about the lives of the famous authors from the past. 

“All those Mountain years, I wanted to live in Paris, it was my dream, but everyone has unfulfilled dreams. C’est la vie. I began to turn to memoir, more and more interested in exploring the self in writing, ‘the self’ as a physics and metaphysic as Montaigne put it. Why on earth couldn’t the self be a respectable subject for literature? It was a territory as complex, as vast, as any other, a moment-by-moment hallucination of sense impressions, emotions and thoughts, continuously creating the experience of a shady, chestnut tree, an itchy leg, a smiling face, a sense of belonging, of love, and grief and delight. isn’t an ungraspable sense of being, in fact, the only thing that connects each one of us” – Ransacking Paris, page 12

The paragraph above to me is beautiful descriptive writing and warms my heart. It makes me want to put everything aside and spend time writing my memoir.

This book is a very personal account of Patti Miller’s year in Paris, as she makes friends, and tries to live her life to way the locals do.  The book goes very deeply into her thoughts and feelings, about stepping out of her life in Australia, and away from her family for a full year. Ransacking Paris evokes a very strong sense of identity and place.

Recommendation

‘Miller produces compelling prose…beautifully rendered and perceptively evoked” – Australian Book Review

I’ve read this book twice now and would recommend it highly.

My Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

About The Author

Patti Miller was raised on a farm in Central western NSW.  She has written many books and in 2012 won the NSW Premier’s History Award. She has taught writing for over twenty years, including at the innovative Faber Academy in Sydney. Miller regularly takes groups to Paris to write for extended periods.

Published in

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#A-ZChallenge P: Places We Swim By Caroline Clements and Dillon Seitchik-Reardon

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

Summary

 From lap pools to ocean pools to hot springs. Places We Swim covers the breadth of Australia, bringing you the sixty best places to swim, dive, jump, paddle and float, around the country. You’ll discover just what makes each swimming spot unique, learn the best time to go, gain some useful local knowledge and find out the best things to see and do in the area.

With destinations ranging from the neighbourhood city pool to remote outback waterfalls , this book is a celebration of not just these magnificent swimming spots, but of the diverse landscapes and communities that make up Australia.

The chapters are divided by the States of Australia, with each state claiming very diverse types of swimming pools. The photographs invoke the typical ideas of summer in Australia.

The two page foreword is written by Benjamin Law. Here is just one paragraph:
“And every body of water in this country has a compelling story behind it. Australian swimming spots tell this country’s social and political history” – Benjamin Law, author, journalist, radio host and TV personality.

My Thoughts

This is an amazingly beautiful coffee table book. Before reading it, I couldn’t resist the temptation of flipping through the stunning photos. Immediately they  brought back memories of long, hot summers when I was a child. On the weekends my grandparents would take us to different neighbouring towns to swim at their local pool. I have very happy memories of all those pools we visited. Some were formal swimming pools and others were designated areas in rivers.  

I loved the Top Five lists that were included:
Beaches

Nudie Swims
Best for relaxing with a cold beer
Best Waterfalls

Places We Swim is a stunning photo book, including essays about the relationship between Australians and bodies of water. As I read Places We Swim, I found myself day dreaming of leaving my day job and wandering off to explore this beautiful country and it’s swimming pools.

My Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the authors

Caroline Clements is writer, editor and creative producer originally from Melbourne.
New Mexican by birth, Australian by choice, Dillon Seitchik-Reardon is a photographer, writer, and videographer.

      Published by Hardie Grant Travel in 2018.
Large, softcover book – 192 pages, including index

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#AtoZChallenge M: MyHeart Is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots by John Guy

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

Summary

This book is a biography of Mary Queen of Scots, however it reads like a novel of intrigue and drama.  She had such a life! The way her life is assessed, depends of your point of view. Some would say she was a traitor, an adultress and a murderer. But then again, some would say that she was a courageous heroine, who stuck to what she believed. She could even be considered to be a martyr.

This is an extremely well researched book, using historical documents from the archives to build the story of the life of Mary Queen of Scots. The truth is told about the myths that have been created around her.The author says she is the most charismatic but also the most unlucky monarch in British history.

My Thoughts

I found this true story to be incredible and riveting.  As I was reading, I would find myself forgetting that the events outlined are actually true, and not the figment of an author’s imagination in a novel. Mary Stuart was crowned Queen of Scotland at nine months of age and Queen of France at age 16 and on it goes. There are so many highlights and low lights to her life that make this book an absolute page turner. I couldn’t put it down.

Recommendation

“A triumph of biography, artistry, and a historical detective work. A masterpiece full of fire and tragedy. This book will be required reading for years to come” – Amanda Foreman

“Absorbing…..meticulously researched……scholarly and intriguing….the book will not disappoint” – Peter Ackroyd, The Times

My Rating:  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About The Author

John Guy

 

John Guy is the author of many English histories, including Tudor England which has sold more than a quarter of a million copies. He is a fellow at Clare College, Cambridge, and also lectures in the Faculty of History. He became a Honorary Research Professor at the University of St. Andrews in 2003.

 

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Published in 2004 by Fourth Estate
Paperback 573 pages including imdex

 

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#AtoZChallenge K – K is for Keating by Kerry O’Brien

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

 

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

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Summary

Paul Keating was Prime Minister of Australia, during the most significant period of political and economic reform in the history of Australia. Twenty years later, there hasn’t been an autobiography published, and Keating has never spoken about this period. There has been no memoir from this ex Prime Minister who was always considered to be a supreme political storyteller. 

This book fills that gap. Well known journalist and TV interviewer, Kerry O’Brien knew all the players, lived the history and has spent many hours with Keating teasing out the stories and testing his memories.

The result is this great book of anecdotes, insights, reflections and occasional admissions from one of the most loved and most disliked political leaders in our time. The format of this book is question and answer interview style.

My Thoughts

I first came across this book when I attended a session at The Bendigo Writers Festival, where Kerry O’Brien was discussing his book Keating, which had only recently been published. I attended this session because I was a fan of Kerry O’Brien but I never expected to read the book as I thought it would be too political and too heavy for me. But after hearing O’Brien speak, I couldn’t wait to get started.

Even though Keating is based on politics, it isn’t a dry text book type read as the style is very conversational. I really enjoyed reading Keating‘s view on events that occurred during his time as Prime Minister and the preceding years.

I remember Paul Keating as being a colourful character with a wonderful way with words. He always seemed to be able to cut his opponent in half with his words.  I love to see old footage of him when he was speaking in Parliament. If only politicians today were so clever with their words.

I did love this book, and I felt it was my privelege to read it. Despite it’s many pages, once I started reading, I coudn’t put it down. It was both serious and very humorous. I was surprised to read that this great, seemingly confident leader suffered with his own insecurities and moments of doubt at times. As well as delving deeply into events during Keating’s time as Prime Minister, this book shows a human side to the man that little is known about.

My Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

About the Author

Kerry O’Brien is one of Australia’s most respected journalists, with six Walkley awards, including the Gold Walkley and the Walkley for Outstanding Leadership in journalism. In a 50 year career, he has worked for newspapers, television, a wire service, and as a foreign correspondent.

Thirty three of those years have been at the ABC, where he was the host of many current affairs programs including Four Corners. He has interviewed most of the influential leaders of his time including Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, Mikhail Gorbachev, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair. He was a press secretary to Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, in the early days of his career.

Published in 2015 by Allen & Unwin
794 pages including notes, photos, sources and a comprehensive index

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#AtoZChallenge J – Julie and Julia by Julie Powellk

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

Summary

365 days – 524 recipes – One tiny apartment kitchen

Julie was almost thirty and living a dull and boring life, trapped in a dull secretarial job when she decided to throw everything into cooking to bring some excitement to her life.

Over the period of one year she would cook every single recipe in the blockbuster and legendary Mastering The Art of French Cooking by Julia Child.

Julie doesn’t expect to have any difficulties. But of course she didn’t consider that some of the ingredients would be unusual and difficult to get, not to mention difficult to eat. Very often, meals would be ready until midnight or later due to tracking down ingredients, long cooking times, and difficulties with cooking methods.

Julie deals with all of the challenges she faces with humour and manages to transform her life before she realises it is happening.

My Thoughts

Written very much with a similar type of humour to Bridget Jones in Bridget Jones’ Diary. I loved following Julie as she dived into recipes that I couldn’t imagine cooking, much less eating.  I read this book when it was released and have recently re-read it. It didn’t lose anything at all in the second reading, or the intervening years. I enjoyed it very much and laughed very loud in places. I did think her husband must have been a saint during this disruptive period of their lives.

My Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

About The Author

Julie Powell

  Julie Powell was born and raised in Austin, Texas, where she first fell in love with cooking — and her husband, Eric. Her writing has appeared in Bon Appétit, The New York Times, House Beautiful, and Archaeology Magazine, among others. She lives in Long Island City, Queens.

My Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Published in 2005 by Back Bay Books – Little, Brown and Company
Paperback 307 pages

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#AprilAtoZ Challenge C: Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

Summary

A very touching, while also very funny account of the author’s experience of handling and dealing with problems attached to ageing parents. Told in the form of comic strip and cartoon and using family photos and documents to tell the story. The themes in this book would be common to many readers, and are issues that many struggle with – ageing and infirm elderly parents leaving their family home to live in an institution, and all the feelings and dramas that brings.

My Thoughts

This is an incredibly touching, while also humorous, account of two lives coming to a close while their only child struggles with doing all she can for them, and at the same time honoring their long lives. The writing is beautifully personal, emotional and very moving.

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant is a beautifully presented hardcover book in cartoon form. Many of the cartoons and drawings are ‘laugh out loud’ funny while at the same time,  heartbreakingly sad.

Recommendation

This book was recommended to me by a friend, and I’m so pleased to have had the opportunity to read it. Since reading it, I’ve also dipped in and out of different sections at times. It’s possible to delve into small sections and still enjoy and indentify with the trials of trying to do the best by ageing parents.

It also made me wonder about my own children and how I could make my ageing easier for them. In my opinion this book is ‘must read’.

“A touching, unflinching, darkly hilarious account of her mother and father’s physical and mental declines, their deaths within two years of each other, and her anxious, loving exertions to ease their passages…..Memorial services seek to provide consolations and perhaps a glimpse of guidance for speaker and mourners alike. Chast’s rich graphic elegy, at once subversive and sustaining, offers both’ – Dan Wasserman, The Boston Globe.

#1 New York Times Bestseller

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About The Author

Roz chast 2007.jpg

 

Roz Chast grew up in Brooklyn. She has been a cartoonist for the New Yorker since 1978 and has written and illustrated many books.

Published by

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Images: Wikipedia and Goodreads

The Woman Who Fooled The World by Beau Donelly and Nick Toscano

Belle Gibson‘s Cancer Con

Belle Gibson convinced the world she had healed herself from terminal brain cancer with a healthy diet.  She built a global business based upon her claims.  There was just one problem.  She’d never had cancer” – from back cover

Belle Gibson made herself into an Instagram sensation as a wellness hero, with over 200,000 followers. There was also a mobile phone app, and international book deals. She lied that she had had cancer and had cured herself with natural therapies. Unknown to everyone, including her family and friends, Belle was never a cancer sufferer.

Gibson had a wellness blog with many, many followers, who doted on her every word, taking her advice. People who were genuinely suffering from cancer, were doing exactly what Belle advised them to do to cure their cancer. Many cancer survivors gave up their traditional treatment to follow her advice.

In this book, we read about how Belle Gibson first became considered a health expert, tracking her rise to fame, and also her huge fall from grace. The authors interviewed people closest to her and her followers, to piece together the story. 

The story of Belle Gibson’s deception broke internationally, making world wide headlines. Devotees of alternative treatments and ‘the clean eating movement’ were also interviewed for the story. 

My Thoughts

So, the big question is how was Belle Gibson able to fool so many people all over the world and convince them that she had the answers to cure their cancers. I was very interested to read about what compels a person to deceive the public in such a way. I  found it so interesting and spell binding to read the evidence presented.

As a blogger, I found it really hard to believe that another blogger would be so fraudulent as to trick their readers with her lies. It’s even more unbelievable to think that they would also prey on cancer sufferers and convince them to follow her.

Equally shocking, is that so many of her friends, and people in the wellness industry enabled Gibson to commit fraud on the public. Until reading the authors evidence and following the trail of Belle Gibson that they presented, I really couldn’t imagine how someone could pull off such a huge fraud.

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars  ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

About the authors

 Beau Donelly and Nick Toscano are the multi award winning journalists who originally uncovered Belle Gibson’s lies and broke the story.

Beau Donelly: Beau Donelly is a multi-award-winning journalist who covered social affairs for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. His news-breaking and investigative skills have been recognised by the United Nations and the Melbourne Press Club. Donelly has been awarded for an exposé on illegal brothels, coverage of clergy sex-abuse trials, and reporting on disability issues. He has also been a finalist for Australian journalism’s highest honour, the Walkley Award. Donelly has a Bachelor of Journalism from Monash University, and is based in Europe. – Scribe Publications

Nick Toscano: Nick Toscano is a multi-award-winning journalist based in Melbourne, who specialises in federal politics, business workplace relations, and the labour movement for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. He has been awarded the the Grant Hattam Quill for Investigative Journalism, and has twice received the highest honour in Australian journalism, the Walkley Award, for exposing the country’s biggest-ever underpayment scandal. Toscano has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and a Masters in Journalism from RMIT. – Scribe Publications

Published by Scribe Publications in 2017.  322 pages
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1788: The Brutal Truth of the First Fleet

Title:  1788 The Brutal Truth of the First Fleet
            The biggest single overseas migration the world had ever seen

Author: David Hill
Publisher:  William Heinemann
Date of Publication: 2008
Genre: Australian History
Number of Pages:  400, indexed with a chronology, bibliography and research notes. Photos and charts ;included.

Summary

Hill starts at the beginning, where he describes in great detail, the circumstances and events of life in Georgian England, that led to the decision to send convicts to start a new Colony in an unknown far away country. He conveys the excitement that must have been felt by the officials behind the biggest mass migration scheme ever seen. He sets the scene of life in England at the time that transportation began and the reasons for the decision to transport the convicts to a new land.

The agonizingly long preparations for the journey are covered in great detail, along with the effect this had on the convicts, and the fear they felt at setting out on an unknown journey, to the other side of the world, knowing that it was unlikely they would see their loved ones again. While waiting for the journey to begin, prisoners were being housed in ships at sea, close to land, due to the overcrowded conditions in the gaols. The conditions and hardships on these temporary prisons were also overcrowded and unhygienic.  As a result, many of the prisoners were in a poor state of health when the journey began.

We follow the First Fleet on the long arduous voyage of eight months, over very rough seas to the new unknown land. The 11 ships that transported the convicts, marines and officers in what were atrocious, overcrowded and mostly unbearable conditions. We get to know many of the convicts with outlines of the crimes they committed and their sentences. There were over 1500 people transported with food that was expected to last two years, along with equipment needed to build the new Colony.

We learn more about why they took the particular route they did and their experiences at their various stop-overs enroute. The political arguments of the day are also outlined so that we can understand the reasons for such long protracted preparations and the many delays that occurred.

The book also contains information about how Australia was settled after the arrival of the First Fleet, and the hardships, problems and deprivations that were encountered, which seemed to be insurmountable and caused much despair and conflict. Conditions of famine, after failure of crops to survive caused rations to be continually cut, until the new arrivals were surviving on very meager starvation rations. Hill outlines the struggle for survival in the early days and years, which led to many deaths and finally to the settlement of Norfolk Island.

The Aboriginal people are not forgotten in this book. To read of the interactions of the marines and officers with the Aboriginal community in the context of today’s standards and understandings, is quite startling. However we must remember this was a different time with a different set of values.

We meet Governor Phillip and the officers who were consigned to set up and govern the new country. The insight into Governor Phillip is far more personal than any I have read previously. After reading this book, I feel I understand him more, and why he chose certain actions and outcomes that are sometimes criticised.

The author has included a chronology of events surrounding the First Fleet, from 1717 until the death of Arthur Phillip in England in 1814. Research notes are also included along with a comprehensive bibliography and suggestions for further reading.

Many text books have been written about this subject, but David Hill has used diaries, manuscripts and newspaper reports from the time, along with characterization, to bring the story to life, and to cause the reader to feel empathy for the convicts, and those given the task of starting settlement. This is a story of courage, tragedy, survival and the endurance of all involved. It is also a story of the short sightedness and uncaring attitude of the decision makers in the planning stages. In effect the First Fleeters were dumped in a new land, and left to make the best of i,t and survive the best way they could.

My Thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, as I am a lover of history, with a particular interest in the settlement of Australia. However, I was a little disappointed that there doesn’t seem to be any new information given at all. The information in this book could be found in many of the textbooks and histories currently available, if the reader could be bothered to look.

However, the author has written in such a way that this historical tale doesn’t read like a text book. It is written in the style of a novel, and is definitely a page turner. We meet many of the convicts and marines, and come to feel the pain they are suffering with the dreadful degradations and privations that they faced. The reader comes to understand and feel the hardships that the convicts and first settlers faced.

Recommendation

I would recommend David Hill’s book as an easy read and an introduction to Australian history for the new researcher. The subject matter can often be very dry and tedious to read, but the way the author brings the characters and events to life, makes it enjoyable and a page turner.  I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in history, Australian history, genealogy or family history. My recommendation also extends to anyone interested in just a good read. Even without a special interest in the subject, this book would be worthwhile to read.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About The Author

David Hill has had a successful career as Chairman and Managing Director of  the ABC, Chairman of the Australian Football Association, Chief Executive and Director of the State Railway Authority of NSW and Chairman of Sydney Water Corporation.  This is his second historical book. The first being The forgotten Children, which told the story of the children in England who were sent to Australia after World War 2, mostly without the consent of their parents.

Have you read this book. I’d love to hear your thoughts. I really appreciate the time it takes for you to comment and promise to reply to all comments.

 

Hell Ship by Michael Veitch

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The true story of the plague ship Ticonderoga, one of the most calamitous voyages in Australian History.

Title: Hell Ship
Author:  Michael Veitch

Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Date of Publication: 2018
Genre:  Historical
Number of Pages:  260

Summary
This very well researched book tells the story of the dreadful voyage of the Ticonderoga, which left England in 1852, with a record number of passengers on board. The story of the Ticonderoga has been told for generations in Veitch’s family, as his great great grandfather James William Henry Veitch, was the junior doctor onboard.

As the ship sailed towards Australia, there was a huge outbreak of disease onboard, which took the lives of many passengers, and made the voyage a hellish one for those who survived. When the senior also became gravely ill, the authors great great grandfather was required to take over caring for the sick and dying.

As the ship sailed into Point Nepean, after it’s long and disastrous voyage, the yellow flag was flying, a universal sign that there was an outbreak of disease onboard. During the voyage, more than one quarter of the travellers lost their lives to typhoid. At the time of arrival, there were hundreds onboard who were very ill, and the ship wasn’t given permission to pull into port and disembark for days. Meanwhile many more died, while the ship was waiting for permission to dock and unload.

Most of the emigrants onboard the Ticonderoga, were victims of the Scottish clearances and the potato famine, travelling to Australia with hopes of finding a better life, after being victims of dreadful circumstances in Scotland. It seems very cruel, that these people who had already suffered so much, then had to face more suffering and sadness on this voyage.

My Thoughts
Hell Ship gives a very detailed account of the voyage, from official records. This voyage, was one of the biggest stories of the time, that is now almost forgotten. Not only is this account about the voyage and the disasters the emigrants faced, it is also about the people who were on the ship, and the tragic losses they faced, as the huge Ticonderoga made it’s way across the ocean, with it’s numbers of passengers decreasing quickly, as they were buried at sea.

Hell Ship is much more than the story of Michael Veitch’s family history. The book gives a remarkable insight into the hardships and horrors endured by emigrants on all ships, as they travelled to the other side of the world in the hope of starting a new and better life for themselves and their families.

Recommendation
I’m sure that anyone with an interest in history and especially 19th century history would really enjoy this book. Family historians and genealogists would find it extremely helpful in illustrating the conditions that the early settlers had in the long voyage to the new land.

This extremely well researched and historical document will now enable the story of the Ticonderoga to live again, and not be forgotten.

My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Michael Veitch

This review has been reposted from my other blog Tracking Down The Family

Have you read this book. I’d love to hear your thoughts. I really appreciate the time it takes for you to comment and promise to reply to all comments.