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Synopsis

In 1787 a convoy of eleven ships, carrying about 1400 people, set out from England for Botany Bay. According to the conventional account, it was a shambolic affair: under-prepared, poorly equipped and ill-disciplined. Robert Hughes condemned the organisers’ “muddle and lack of foresight”, while Manning Clark described scenes of “indescribable misery and confusion”.

In The First Fleet: The Real Story, Alan Frost draws on previously forgotten records to debunk these persistent myths. He shows that the voyage was in fact meticulously planned – reflecting its importance to the British government’s secret ambitions for imperial expansion. He examines the ships and supplies, passengers and behind-the-scenes discussions. In the process, he reveals the hopes and schemes of those who planned the voyage, and the experiences of those who made it.

‘It is almost certain that Frost knows more than anybody else about the early maritime history of this land ... This book will surely alter the way Sydney sees its history.’ —Geoffrey Blainey, Weekend Australian

‘Alan Frost is the myth-buster of Australian history...His work should be studied not only by students but anyone interested in the birth of a nation.’ —Age

‘This book is an exciting reassessment.’ —Courier Mail

‘Frost positively rampages through the pronouncements of earlier scholars, smiting conventional wisdoms left and right ... We need more Frosts.’ —Canberra Times

‘Australia’s leading authority on the First Fleet...this book has rewritten the rules of First Fleet scholarship.’ —Sydney Morning Herald

‘Highly readable, Frost’s work will be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in early Australia’ —Sunday Herald Sun

‘Revisionist history at its best, immaculately researched and written’ —Bookseller + Publisher

Alan Frost is Emeritus Professor of History at La Trobe University in Melbourne. His previous books include The Voyage of the Endeavour; Arthur Phillip, 1738–1814: His Voyaging; Botany Bay Mirages; and The Global Reach of Empire.

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