First Nations Leader and Tasmanian War Hero

Henry Reynolds, Nicholas Clements
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Henry Reynolds and Nicholas Clements uncover the extraordinary story of one of Australia’s greatest military leaders.

Tongerlongeter is an epic story of resistance, sorrow and survival. Leader of the Oyster Bay nation of south-east Tasmania in the 1820s and ’30s, Tongerlongeter and his allies prosecuted the most effective frontier resistance ever mounted on Australian soil, inflicting some 354 casualties. His brilliant campaign inspired terror throughout the colony, forcing Governor George Arthur to counter with a massive military operation in 1830. Tongerlongeter escaped but the cumulative losses had taken their toll. On New Year’s Eve 1831, having lost his arm, his country, and all but 25 of his people, the chief agreed to an armistice. In exile on Flinders Island, Tongerlongeter united remnant tribes and became the settlement’s ‘King’ — a beacon of hope in a hopeless situation.

‘A masterpiece of military history’ — Michael McKernan, The Canberra Times

‘The astonishing story of Tongerlongeter’s valiant struggle to defend his Country, whatever the cost.’ — Mark McKenna, Sydney Morning Herald

‘Henry Reynolds and Nicholas Clements have worked some powerful historical magic to conjure out of a dark and foggy Tasmanian past the image of a tall, handsome, noble warrior named Tongerlongeter...’ — Charles Wooley, The Weekend Australian

‘Raw and engaging, Reynolds and Clements have rescued this forgotten history from obscurity. Despite being stripped of their lore and having British law imposed upon them, Tongerlongeter and his allies fought fiercely for their country. I admire them greatly.’ — Dianne Baldock, CEO of Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation

‘This book does not remedy injustice, but it recognises it. It offers Tongerlongeter, his people and his allies respect, recognition and regret.’ — Emeritus Professor Bill Gammage, author of The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia

‘Reynolds and Clements have given Tasmania a new hero — Tongerlongeter. Australians should revere him as much as their Anzac heroes — he defended his country to the death.’ — Professor Peter Stanley, UNSW Canberra

‘I felt proud reading the story of Tongerlongeter and his epic resistance who, in 19th century words, “held their ground bravely for 30 years against the invaders of their beautiful domains”. Reynolds and Clements reveal the guardians of empire in turmoil. Did we know? We do now.’ — John Pilger, journalist, writer and documentary filmmaker

‘...the authors draw on colonial archival and newspaper sources to construct a detailed and compelling account of Tongerlongeter’s guerrilla war against the settlers.’ — Lyndall Ryan, History Australia

Contributor Bio

Henry Reynolds is one of Australia’s most recognised historians. He grew up in Hobart and was educated at Hobart High School and the University of Tasmania. In 1965, he accepted a lectureship at James Cook University in Townsville, which sparked an interest in the history of relations between settlers and Aboriginal people. In 2000, he took up a professorial fellowship at the University of Tasmania. His pioneering work has changed the way we see the intertwining of black and white history in Australia. His books with NewSouth include The Other Side of the Frontier (reissue); What’s Wrong with Anzac? (as co-author); Forgotten War, which won the Victorian Premier’s Award for Non-Fiction; Unnecessary Wars; This Whispering in Our Hearts Revisited and Truth-Telling: History, Sovereignty and the Uluru Statement.

Nicholas Clements is an eighth generation Tasmanian who has spent most of his life in the Tamar Valley. In addition to being a family man and a keen rock climber, he is a part-time teacher of history, philosophy and psychology. He is also an adjunct researcher at the University of Tasmania, where he completed his PhD on the island’s Aboriginal and early contact histories. His 2014 book, The Black War: Fear, Sex and Resistance in Tasmania, explored the motivations and experiences of both Aborigines and colonists during that conflict.