Community of Thieves
WHA, $19.95 pb, 200 pp
Another book on George Augustus Robinson, the nineteenth-century oddity who toured Tasmania gathering Aboriginals whom he eventually incarcerated on Flinders Island? Historians from John West to Brian Plomley have written about his Tasmanian adventures; Robert Drewe and Mudrooroo Narogin have added interpretations of his singular career. Do we need another?
I was doubtful until I read this lovely book. Cassandra Pybus, who holds a history PhD, states that hers is not a work of history as much as a personal meditation. Though the powerful narrative and reflective pauses entitle Community of Thieves to the appellation ‘history’, the meditations of the author on these dismal events form the book’s greatest strength.