Other books byThomas Keneally
A Commonwealth of Thieves
The Improbable Birth of Australia
In this spirited history of the remarkable first four years of the convict settlement of Australia, Thomas Keneally offers us a human view of a fascinating piece of history. Combining the authority of a renowned historian with a brilliant narrative flair, Keneally gives us an inside view of this unprecedented experiment from the perspective of the new colony’s governor, Arthur Phillips. Using personal journals and documents, Keneally re-creates the hellish overseas voyage and the challenges Phillips faced upon arrival: unruly convicts, disgruntled officers, bewildered and hostile natives, food shortages, and disease. He also offers captivating portrayals of Aborigines and of convict settlers who were determined to begin their lives anew. A Commonwealth of Thieves immerses us in the fledgling penal colony and conjures up the thrills and hardships of those first four improbable years.
Origins to Eureka
Now in paperback, the outstanding first volume of acclaimed author Thomas Keneally's major new three-volume history of Australia brings to life the vast range of characters who have formed Australia's national story Convicts and Aborigines, settlers and soldiers, patriots and reformers, bushrangers and gold seekersit is from their lives and their stories that Tom Keneally has woven a vibrant history to do full justice to the rich and colorful nature of Australia's unique national character. The story begins by looking at European occupation through Aboriginal eyes, moving between the city slums and rural hovels of 18th-century Britain and the shores of Port Jackson. Readers spend time on the low-roofed convict decks of transports and see the bewilderment of the Eora people as they see the first ships of turaga, or "ghost people." They follow the daily round of Bennelong and his wife Barangaroo and the tribulations of warrior Windradyne. Convicts like Solomon Wiseman and John Wilson find their feet and even fortune, while Henry Parkes' arrival as a penniless immigrant gives few clues to the national statesman he was to become. Chinese diggers trek to the goldfields, and revolutionaries like Italian Raffaello Carboni and black American John Joseph bring readers the drama of the Eureka uprising. Tom Keneally has brought to life the high and the low, the convict and the free of early Australian society. This is truly a new history of Australia, by an author of outstanding literary skill and experience, whose own humanity permeates every page.
Starvation and Politics
Through the lens of three of the most devastating food crises in modern history—the Górta Mor of British-ruled Ireland, the great famine of British-ruled Bengal in 1943, and the string of famines that plagued Ethiopia during the 1970s and 1980s, Booker Prizewinning author Thomas Keneally vividly evokes the terrible cost of mass starvation at the level of the individual who starves and the nation that watches. Famine is widely misunderstood as a completely natural catastrophe. Keneally recounts that while the triggers—crop, pestilence, and drought—are natural, the political and ideological choices that prolong famine are man-made. Government neglect and individual venality, not food shortages, are historically the causes of sustained, widespread hunger. In Ireland, British authorities ignored the existence of a food crisis while the famished fed on diseased cattle and human remains. In Bengal, where over four million starved to death, Field Marshal Archibald Wavell’s reports of people dying in Calcutta’s streets and demands for relief resulted in little more than a mocking cable from Winston Churchill asking, why, if food was so scarce, hadn’t Gandhi died yet? In Ethiopia, Mengistu Haile Mariam arranged for 400,000 bottles of whisky to ship to Addis Ababa from Britain to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the revolution that put him in power, while one person died every twenty minutes in Korem. These three famines are stark examples of how throughout history, racial preconceptions, administrative neglect, and incompetence have been more lethal than the initiating blights or crop failures. Keneally’s startling narrative history is a sobering warning to the authorities in charge of mercy in our time to stop making choices that feed famine instead of the starving.
Searching for Schindler
This is the captivating story behind Schindler’s List, the Booker Prize–winning book and the Academy Award–winning Spielberg film. Keneally tells the tale of the unlikely encounter that propelled him to write about Oskar Schindler and of the impact of his extraordinary account on people around the world. Thomas Keneally met Leopold “Poldek” Pfefferberg, the owner of a Beverly Hills luggage shop, in 1981. Poldek, a Polish Jew and a Holocaust survivor, had a tale he wanted the world to know. Charming, charismatic, and persistent, he convinced Keneally to relate the incredible story of “the all-drinking, all-screwing, all-black-marketeering Nazi, Oskar Schindler. But to me he was Jesus Christ.” Searching for Schindler is the engrossing chronicle of Keneally’s pursuit of one of history’s most fascinating and paradoxical heroes. Traveling throughout the United States, Germany, Israel, Poland, and Austria, Keneally and Poldek interviewed people who had known Schindler and uncovered their indelible memories of the Holocaust. Keneally’s powerful narrative rose quickly to the top of bestseller lists. Steven Spielberg’s magnificent film adaptation went on to fulfill Poldek’s dream of winning “an Oscar for Oskar.” (Keneally’s anecdotes about Spielberg, Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, and other cast members will delight film buffs.) Written with candor and humor, Seaching for Schindler is an intimate look at Keneally’s growth as a writer and the enormous success of his portrait of Oskar Schindler.