Get Your Free Audiobook

The Commonwealth of Thieves 

Narrated by: Simon Vance
Length: 12 hrs and 28 mins
4.6 out of 5 stars (51 ratings)

Non-member price: $53.17

After 30 days, Audible is $16.45/mo. Cancel anytime.

Publisher's Summary

A lively history of the 'First Fleet' which took convicts from Britain to Australia in 1787; Sydney's early years as 'an open-air prison'; and the colonisation of New South Wales. 

The story of modern Australia begins in 18th-century Britain, where people were hanged for petty offences but crime was rife and the gaols were bursting. From this situation was born the Sydney experiment, with criminals perceived to be damaging British society transported to Sydney, an 'open air prison with walls 14,000 miles thick'.  

Eleven ships were dispatched in 1781 and arrived in Australia after eight hellish months at sea. Tom Keneally describes the first four years of the 'thief colony' and how, despite the escapes, the floggings, the murders and the rebellions, it survived against the odds to create a culture which would never have been tolerated in its homeland but which, in Australia, became part of the identity of a new and audacious nation.

©2006 The Serpentine Publishing Co. (Pty) Ltd (P)2006 Tantor Media, Inc

What listeners say about The Commonwealth of Thieves 

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    38
  • 4 Stars
    8
  • 3 Stars
    5
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    39
  • 4 Stars
    7
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    37
  • 4 Stars
    6
  • 3 Stars
    5
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

history but not history

kenally writes clearly. this is a well researched and informative book. written in the style of a novel nevertheless it provides an informed view of early European settlement.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A most vivid account of Australian settlement

Without judgement Thomas weaves the stories of the individual lives of convicts, soldiers sea captains, and free settlers, those of Benelong, Barangaroo and the Eora people with that of Arthur Philip and other British officials into a complex colorful tapestry that brings to vivid life the story of the meeting of two cultures, two nations, two world views. A subject that is often as dry as ships biscuit when presented in grade school history books comes to life under the exquisite penmanship of Keneally as he depicts events of settlement through the intertwining life stories of the many lives allowing the reader to become almost intimately acquainted with the characters through their diary entries thus giving the reader almost the sense of having lived the experience first hand as a fly-on-the-wall observer, a voyeur-to-the-events that began the story of Australia. Engaging enthralling enlightening and best of all... entertaining!!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Full 5 star

A remarkable book on the early British settlement of Australia and the relationship of the settlers and convicted men and woman with the native Australians. The narration is particularly pleasant with Simon’s lovely voice and English. I’ll listen again one day soon because Thomas has filled the book with so much material that it is easy to miss some while musing over it.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful.

I was worried about reading this book. I was worried about it being “ white history “ all over again so I was pleasantly surprised. T.K. Has put us in touch with the individual people. The convicts , the officers, the indigenous folk. It was sympathetic to everyone and written without judgement for or against anyone. Like excellent journalism Some of the stories really surprised me and left me wanting to know more. Like the story of Barangaroo, Benelongs wife and a fantastic woman. I’ve never read anything on early white Australian history nearly as good as this before.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting but a bit monotonous

Struggled to get through it. Very informative but found the speaking didn't vary in pitch and speed enough, so I lost track often.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Australia Early Settlement

An excellent account based on the stories by and about the people involved. A sympathetic representation of Arthur Phillip as possibly the unlikely yet ideal governor whose relationship with convicts and aboriginal people promised much understanding and possible reconciliation. Insight into the transformation of rogues and lives in difficult times. Much appreciated.