Set against the backdrop of Georgian England with its peculiar mix of elegance, prosperity, progress, and squalor, the story of the First Fleet is one of courage, shortsightedness, tragedy, but above all, extraordinary resilience. Separated from loved ones and traveling in cramped conditions for the months-long journey to Botany Bay, the first European Australians suffered the most unbearable hardship upon arrival on Australian land, where a near famine dictated that rations be cut to the bone. Questions such as Why was the settlement of New South Wales proposed in the first place? and Who were the main players in a story that changed the world and ultimately forged the Australian nation? are answered using diaries, letters, and official records. Artfully reconstructing the experiences of these famous and infamous men and women of history, this book combines narrative skill with an eye for detail and an exceptional empathy with the people of the past.