Isles of Unknowing. "American Citizens, British Slaves: Yankee Political Prisoners in an Australian Penal Colony, 1839–1850" by Cassandra Pybus and Hamish Maxwell-Stewart. [review]
One of the pleasures of reading "American Citizens, British Slaves" is its invitation to think about writing. It asks us to consider the need of prisoners to maintain, and later restore, normal relations with one's self and the world by putting words on paper. It also asks us to consider the site of writing inhabited by authorities: the bureaucratic world that made men objects of paperwork: pages shuffled, copied and, sometimes wantonly, destroyed. In Van Diemen's Land in the 1840s, that site was as much one of corruption and personal humiliation as were the probation stations of the penal system. The reports and archives tell the tale. So does the superb writing of Pybus and Maxwell-Stewart.