This book looks at the emigration to Australia of people from the UK. The book focuses on those that were given assistance by the government and charities for the period 1830-1860. It challenges the commonly held idea that those who immigrated to Australia were one step away from the criminal class, with many fewer skills than those who were immigrating to America. Haines examines the records of those who were granted assistance and found that these were mainly agricultural workers, and literate. They were not “shovelled out” but rather had to go through a great deal of testing for suitability. A lot of this testing reminded me of modern immigration practice, vaccinations, marriage certificates, proof of literacy, work skills, character witnesses etc. Haines thought it was worth mentioning that the tests for literacy tested for writing and not reading, which was much less common in 19th century England as it was thought that teaching people to write would give them ideas above their station.

I read it to gain a better understanding for cataloguing the Emigration Tracts at work, and while I feel I have learned more about this period, and the difference between emigration to America and Australia, I feel that the attention to detail over the numbers obscured the bigger picture. However, this book did contain a large section on the emigration tracts I am cataloguing, who produced them and why, from pro-emigration groups to religious pamphlets. So far I have only come across one pamphlet by the Society of Friends that was religious in nature, An address of Christian counsel and caution to emigrants to newly-settled colonies. I was expecting this to be what is described in the book as, “exhorting them to avoid drunkenness and sin and emphasising the importance of worship” (187) but in fact this was the most wonderful tract that condemned any prejudice against the native peoples, said to treat them fairly, not to take their land, and not to support any war made against them. It was a very refreshing voice of reason and probably the best tract I’ve read yet in the 5 volumes I’ve catalogued so far.

Overall I felt this book was a little too heavy on facts and figures rather than information about the people who emigrated. While these details are important, particularly the break down of figures within the different colonies, I felt that Haines could have benefitted from including more of a social or political history to go along with these figures. Still this is a small complaint for what is a very informative book. Definitely not one that’s in my area of personal interest, but readable and accessible.
[ profile] beluosus bought me this for Christmas as I've asked him to start teaching me Egyptian Hieroglphys and I realised I should know more about Egypt. He knows how much I like Everyday life books and having seen the documentary that accompanied this he thought I'd really enjoy it. This book really brings home the wonder that is Egyptology. It is amazing that to see that such detail can be known about a community that lived over 3000 years ago. The book traces the village, and the villagers, that made the tombs of the pharaohs. It looks at their lives, their labour and their conflicts with each other and the government.

I think this book was written for people who have a greater knowledge of Egypt than I do. References were made to different Pharaohs, without saying what the year in BCE was, or how much time had passed between chapters. The book followed the lives of the important people of the village, their rise to fame, and sometimes their falls from grace.

I could have done with more information about the women in the village. The book focused almost entirely on the men. There was one very touching poem written by a man mourning his lost wife. But on the whole the women were hardly mentioned at all.

I think the last part of the book was the most interesting to me. Egypt had fallen on hard times and could no longer afford to pay its artisans and so the people who were paid to create the tombs ended up robbing them, in quite a clever way so the government took a couple decades to notice. The last chapter looked at the work of 2 centuries of Egyptologists that helped to uncover the story of the village.

This book is definitely a good companion to other histories of Egypt and I'd definitely recommend it to anyone interested in the time and their monuments.


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