Monday, September 22, 2014

Disappointed with this tome

A couple of months ago I went to a talk by William Cox's descendant, Anne-Maree Harriet Cox Whitaker at Hawkesbury Family History Group. I quite enjoyed her talk (see my report) and lined up afterwards to purchase her book William Cox and Cox's  Road; a bicentenary souvenir as I was keen to learn more about the road and the story of its construction.

I believe that my convict ancestors, James Westbrook amd William Magick had earned their freedom in 1818 as a result of the work they did making bricks for the road.


I read the book when I got home and have had it sitting on my desk for six weeks as I ponder what to write about it. It was attractively presented, well laid out, competently written, had some pertinent images and was well sourced. Although there is nothing wrong with the book I felt disappointed after reading it. Why?

* From the title I thought there would be more emphasis on the building of the road and I was hoping to discover new information about the road and its construction.

* About 59 pages are devoted to Cox and his family, I didn't realise that this was a major focus of the work but should have realised as in the title the words  William Cox are in bigger font than And Cox's Road.

* The author recognises in the short four page chapter on "Cox's Road Party" that not all the names of those who worked on the road are recorded. I wonder what research was carried out to identify others. I would like to have seen a bit more information on the other members of the Road Party but this book's focus was definitely just Cox.

* 34 pages of the book are devoted to a reprint of the Journal Cox kept during the road's construction. This together with Governor Macquarie's instructions to Cox (also reprinted in the book) is freely available here through Project Gutenberg. I was annoyed that I had purchased a book told me no more about the building of Cox's Road than what I can find freely available on the internet.

Do go ahead and  purchase this book, it is a good souvenir. My disappointment is personal,  I had great expectations that just weren't realised.

1 comment:

MichelleNichols said...

Jill I noted that several talks are devoted to 'road' research at the forthcoming RAHS conference, one by Carol Liston www.rahs.org.au

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