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Tin roofs and palm trees : a report on the new South Seas

CollectionsANU Press (1965- Present)
Title: Tin roofs and palm trees : a report on the new South Seas
Author(s): Trumbull, Robert
Date published: 1977
Publisher: Canberra, ACT : Australian National University Press
"From the eighteenth-century accounts of Captain James Cook to the writings of James A. Michener, enraptured descriptions of the Pacific islands have identified the term 'South Seas{u2019} with visions of a blissful life in perpetual summer on white beaches shaded by swaying palm trees. {u2026} Since the arrival of Western civilization, however, more of the virgin landscapes admired by Cook and later visitors have sprouted incongruous masonry hotels, and countless palms cast their shade on tin roofs in villages where metal was unknown in Cook{u2019}s time." Such are the changes encountered throughout Tin Roofs and Palm Trees, a portrait of the emerging island states and territories of the South Pacific painted by a journalist who has scrutinized the developments in this romantic yet increasingly troubled area for thirty-five years. Robert Trumbull joined the staff of The New York Times in 1941 as Honolulu correspondent and served throughout World War II as a war correspondent in the Central Pacific arena. In covering the South Pacific for the Times in later years, Trumbull visited all of the major islands, as well as several out-of-the-way spots rarely seen by travelers. Drawing upon this background, Trumbull tells the story of each major island group, tracing its history, describing its current problems and prospects for the future, in an anecdotal style highlighted with the many colorful and significant figures he has come to know personally over the years. Each chapter brings together elements which give that island population its individual identity. Yet as one reads these accounts - from Papua New Guinea through the Solomons, New Hebrides, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Fiji, Tonga, the Cook Islands, Niue and the Tokelaus, the Samoas, Nauru, Gilbert and Ellice (now Tuvalu) Islands, to the Trust T erritory of the Pacific Islands - one discerns common traits that bind these diverse entities into an awareness of community. Perhaps most important today, the different cultures presented are all faced with the problems of modernization, of reconciling Western values with their traditional way of life; and even though the islands' generally thin economic bases preclude hope of immediate self-sufficiency, the peoples of the South Pacific are demanding more and more claim to their rightful place in the world. Tin Roofs and Palm Trees is anauthoritative and readable introduction to the South Seas today. From the strange cargo cults of New Guinea to the plight of tiny Nauru, whose terrain is daily being digested by phosphate-gobbling steamshovels, the story is alive, personal, and important.


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