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Stephen Gapps’ The Sydney Wars covers the period of conflict in the Sydney Basin area between 1788 and 1817, detailing the various battles and massacres that took place in the early years of the Sydney colony. The book promotes itself as the first ‘detailed account’ of these conflicts in the Sydney area, and detailed it is. Gapps weaves together contemporary accounts from diaries, official dispatches to the British Empire, news reports and court testimony to present a thorough reckoning of the destruction dealt to lives and property across the three decades from first European contact. He paints a nuanced picture of the conflict which offers, in some respects, a dissenting voice in the narrative surrounding these frontier wars – a term Gapps himself takes some issue with.
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