'The Black Saturday bushfires of 7 February 2009 were the most catastrophic in Australia’s history. One hundred and seventy three people lost their lives and over two thousand homes were destroyed.
'Award winning historian and writer Robert Kenny had a sound fire plan and he was prepared. But the reality of the fire was more ferocious and more unpredictable than he could have imagined. By the end of the day, his house and the life contained within were gone.
'Gardens of Fire extends his experience of being engulfed by flames to an investigation of the human relationship with fire. This extraordinary and compelling history explores European and Aboriginal mythologies of fire along with the pragmatics of the fire in the hearth.
'This is at once an intimate memoir and a meditative analysis of the reality that, as humans, we are children of fire.' (Publisher's blurb)
'Traces the life of Nathanael Pepper of the Wotjobaluk people, who was born as the first pastoralists were driving cattle and sheep into Victoria's Wimmera region. In their wake came Christian missionaries, who were just as hostile to the settlers' violence as they were to the traditional beliefs of Aboriginal people. Nevertheless, Pepper converted to Christianity in 1860. The extraordinary story of Pepper's conversion, and his subsequent attempts to reconcile the apparently irreconcilable, reveals much about the deeper symbolic and moral forces at work in this collision of cultures. Robert Kenny challenges many orthodoxies in this profound reconsideration of how indigenous people and Europeans thought about each other. He traces Aboriginal attempts to accommodate the 'people of the sheep' and their pastoralist totem, Jesus, while arguing that it was European animals more than the settlers themselves that ruptured the Dreaming. On the European side, Kenny argues, increasingly powerful scientific and philosophical challenges undermined evangelical Christianity's belief that all humanity was of 'One Blood'. And behind it all lurked the spectre of slavery and the question of the moral order of imperialism. Brilliantly original in conception, and written with a rare lucidity and lightness of touch, The Lamb Enters the Dreaming is a detailed and sensitive exploration of a life, a meditation on the matter of culture and conversion, and a major reappraisal of the relations between Aboriginal and European societies in the first decades of contact in southern Australia.' (Back cover.)