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Book review of 'The Black War: Fear, Sex and Resistance in Tasmania' and 'The Last Man: A British Genocide in Tasmania'


Taylor, R, Book review of 'The Black War: Fear, Sex and Resistance in Tasmania' and 'The Last Man: A British Genocide in Tasmania', Australian Historical Studies, 46, (1) pp. 134-136. ISSN 1031-461X (2015) [Review Several Works]

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DOI: doi:10.1080/1031461X.2015.992830


In 2008 Nicholas Clements had an ‘epiphany’. He was in his one-man tent in Serbia, reading a book about the Middle-east conflict. It was written by both an Israeli and a Palestinian, bringing Clements to realise that: ‘everyone believes … their actions are justified’. Each side has its God.

Seven years later, Clements’ 200,000-word PhD thesis was reduced to become The Black War: Fear, Sex and Resistance in Tasmania, an account of Tasmania’s frontier conflict from 1824 to 1831. The title is a close echo of Clive Turnbull’s 1948 Black War: the Extermination of the Tasmanian Aborigines, but unlike that stern indictment of the colonial government, Clements aims to present a book true to his epiphany. Dividing each chapter under the headings ‘white’ and black’ Clements aims to present ‘two histories in parallel’ with the decisions, actions and psychology of each warring side mapped out in impartial detail.

Clements hopes we will emerge from his book as he did from his Serbian tent, realising that only was the ‘blacks’’ resistance justified, as other historians have demonstrated, but that the ‘whites’ too were ‘victims of their circumstances, assumptions, hatreds’. Both sides were ‘like you and me: imperfect mammals’.

Item Details

Item Type:Review Several Works
Keywords:Tasmania History Aboriginal War Genocide
Research Division:Indigenous Studies
Research Group:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, language and history
Research Field:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Understanding past societies
Objective Field:Understanding Australia's past
UTAS Author:Taylor, R (Dr Rebe Taylor)
ID Code:135728
Year Published:2015
Deposited By:College Office - CALE
Deposited On:2019-11-11
Last Modified:2019-11-13

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