A couple of books I picked up for a long flight:
The Seventh Circle – “A former Australian soldier’s extraordinary story of surviving seven years in Afghanistan’s most notorious prison”. No surprise that the Afghan justice system is corrupt and that money talks but the book provides great insights into life behind bars in Afghanistan for a foreigner (turns out that the prisoners that treated the author decently were African drug smugglers and hard core Taliban) and an insider’s view on how one of the parasitic contractor’s companies operate. Rob Langdon left the army and signed up as a contractor responsible for convoy security in Iraq and Afghanistan. All around corruption and penny pinching by his company summarizes his experience up until his imprisonment.
The Sydney Wars – Conflict in the early colony 1788 – 1817 – From the book: The Sydney Wars tells the history of military engagements between Europeans and Aboriginal Australians – “this constant sort of ware” as described by one early colonist – around the greater Sydney region. This book is a good supplement to Robert Hughes’ The Fatal Shore. Hughs does mention the three way strife between the Aborigines, convicts and the colonial government but Stephen Gapps’ The Sydney Wars, provides details on the long term struggle between the natives and colonizers.
An interesting read, especially comparing the colonization of the Sydney area with North American settlement. A very crude comparison between Sydney and Jamestown is that the American Indian tribes initially tried to recruit the English as allies against other tribes and by the time they realized the English intended to stay they were not able to push them out. Initially, there were epidemics and resistance and it was unsafe outside of the settlements. There was a time in Sydney and Virginia when travel by boat was the safer option. The Sydney colony almost foundered due to starvation requiring settlement in outlying fertile areas. This is when aboriginal resistance reached its peak and there was an element of cooperation between the tribes but unlike the Powhatan Confederacy which eventually tried to push the English out, the aborigines were content to raid isolated homesteads for food. The Colonial Government’s greatest fear was the natives burning the crops. There were a few crop fires but mostly the natives would descend upon a homestead and demand food. Why burn crops is someone is going to grow them for you and provide you with grain and bread? Unfortunately for the natives, the “don’t kill the goose laying the golden crops” strategy only accrued short term benefits.