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The Great Race The Race Between the English and the French to Complete the Map of Australia
Britain had chased the French out of India and subdued the Francophones of North America but, by the close of the 18th century, one new field of imperial competition opened up before the hungry eyes of these European nations. Australia was virgin territory, unmapped, uncharted, unclaimed.
And so, the race began. Britain sent ships under Flinders to follow up on Captain Cook’s lead and France, despite the setback of revolution, entrusted Baudin to explore these new southern lands, and, hopefully, pave the way for a new French colony. The two rivals set out on their epic voyage, enduring hardship, war and pestilence in the quest for new knowledge and to sate national pride. It was a close-run thing and it was only through some quirks of fate and maritime mishaps that Australia was claimed for Britain and promptly subjected to the inglorious fate of being an imperial penal colony.
Little, Brown 400pp Hb.