A Merciless Place: The Lost Story of Britains Convict Disaster in Africa

Hardcover | September 1, 2011

byEmma Christopher

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This is a story lost to history for over two hundred years; a dirty secret of failure, fatal misjudgement and desperate measures which the British Empire chose to forget almost as soon as it was over.In the wake of its most crushing defeat, the America War of Independence, the British Government began shipping its criminals to West Africa. Some were transported aboard ships going to pick up their other human cargo: African slaves. When they arrived at their destination, soldiers and evenconvicts were forced to work in the region's slave-trading forts guarding the human merchandise.In a few short years the scheme brought death, wholesale desertions, mutiny, piracy and even murder. Some of the most egregious crimes were not committed by the exported criminals but by those sent out to guard them. Acts of wanton desperation added to rash transgressions as those whom society hadalready thrown out realised that they had nothing left to lose.As jail and prison hulks overflowed, and as every other alternative settlement proved unsuitable, the British Government gambled and decided to send its criminals as far away as possible, to the great south land sighted years before by Captain James Cook. Out of the embers of the African debaclecame the modern nation of Australia.The extraordinary tale is now being told for the first time - how a small band of good-for-nothing members of the British Empire spanned the world from America, to Africa, and on to Australia, profoundly if utterly unwittingly changing history.

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This is a story lost to history for over two hundred years; a dirty secret of failure, fatal misjudgement and desperate measures which the British Empire chose to forget almost as soon as it was over.In the wake of its most crushing defeat, the America War of Independence, the British Government began shipping its criminals to West Afr...

Emma Christopher holds two Australia Research Council fellowships and is on the faculty of the Department of History at the University of Sydney. She gained her PhD from University College London in 2002 and has received grants and fellowships from the British Academy, the Royal Historical Society, Harvard University's Atlantic World ...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:448 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 1.56 inPublished:September 1, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199695938

ISBN - 13:9780199695935

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Table of Contents

1. Bound for America2. Mr Jefferson and Patrick Madan3. London in Flames4. The "Best Sacrifices for Death"5. Africa6. The Battle for the Coast7. Deserting to the Enemy8. A Plantation with Slaves9. A Mutiny and a Most Peculiar Murder10. Trouble at Goree Island11. 'Naked and Diseased on the Sandy Shore'12. Trying America Again13. The Once Mighty are Fallen14. Lemane Island

Editorial Reviews

"Until now these pre-Botany Bay African penal experiments by the British government have gone barely examined but now their extraordinary and tragic tale is given us in its most vivid form by Emma Christopher in a book which will engage and astonish the reader." --Thomas Keneally