The quote that prefaces this book -- Mark Twain's affirmation that Australia's history reads ""like the most beautiful lies"" all of which are indeed true -- is fully proven in its contents. Kylie Tennant brings to the telling a sense of humor and drama and a sureness of fact and order that makes compelling reading. From the days when the Dutch poked about Australia's coasts, when the British began to touch her lands and to use Botany Bay for a criminal dumpyard, through the long years of pioneering and exploration to the 1950 Centennial of Federation when Australia, no longer insulated, faced world problems with her neighbors, the author treks with spirit. She tells too of the gold rush, of the ""pure Merinos"", of the MacArthurs and Macquaries, landholders, governors, convicts, bushrangers, squatters, slavers who made Australian history. The people of the land emerge clearly, all ably characterized in an account which never sacrifices history for color and never has any need to do so.