Tasmania is a small place with a rich historiography. Two themes in particular have intrigued historians and novelists since the nineteenth century and have appealed to film-makers and artists in more recent times. The fate of the Aborigines and the convict system which dominated society from 1803 to 1853 have both attracted notice as a result of their dark, dramatic potential. They were the central themes of John West’s great two-volume History of Tasmania, published in Launceston in 1852. Every year the relevant body of literature grows. The intense ‘history wars’ of a decade ago were principally about interpretations of Tasmanian history in the early nineteenth century, and many books and articles have been published in recent years.
Violence and Empire
The Last Man: A British Genocide in Tasmania
by Tom Lawson
I.B. Tauris (Footprint), $49.95 hb, 263 pp, 9781780766263
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Henry Reynolds lives in Richmond, Tasmania. He worked for many years at James Cook University in Townsville, and has written many well-known books about Aboriginal-European relations. His recent books are A History of Tasmania (2011) and Forgotten War (2013), which won the Victorian Premier's Prize for non-fiction.
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