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The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the…

The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific (original 2004; edition 2004)

by J. Maarten Troost

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1,488604,992 (3.9)1 / 106

TitleThe Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific
AuthorJ. Maarten Troost
TagsNon-fiction, Memoir, Adventure 
CollectionsYour library, To read
ReviewHaving traveled a bit in a ostensibly "developing" Pacific island nation (The Philippines), I was interested in Troost's tale of his two years on a far more remote and limited island, the Pacific atoll Tarawa. What little I knew of this island came from studies of WWII, when this island was occupied by Japan. A Micronesian island, once part of the colonial British Gilbert Islands and now part of the independent (or, rather, desperately dependent) nation of Kiribati, Tarawa suffers from both over crowding and severe lack of sanitation.

Not only is it not a vacation destination for anyone, but it's not the sort of place one would emigrate to for even a short period of time. Troost's wife, having secured a medical appointment on the island, brought the intrepid author to this location, and he was good enough to document the experience for our edification and amusement.

Troost does a good job incorporating the history of the island, the island group, and the Kribati nation. What doesn't kill you makes you strong -- or at least gives you a good sense of humor, and Troost is definitely entertaining in his tale. Now, I think I do a good job rolling with the locals..."when in Rome..." etc. etc. Troost goes above and beyond the call. I would be more than a little rattled being in a nation where nearly every person is infected with parasitical worms. The realities of going long periods without electricity, potable water, decent food, or, gasp, BEER, would probably drive me crazy long before two years.

Troost tells us what it's like to be part of the foreign class on these islands, the corruption involved in protecting the island's food supply from overfishing by other nations, and the harrowing experience of flying on one of the island's only serviceable aircraft, an ancient relic by most accounts.

By his account, Tarawa is the sort of place one goes to check out from the civilized world. You can try to adapt, go native, but you'll always be an outsider, and the conditions will likely shorten your life span. I suppose things could have been worse...Troost didn't mention dealing with any typhoons or tsunamis while there. It's definitely not a place that one without a sense of humor should ever visit, and I can't imagine Tarawa being on anyone's short list of vacation destinations. Therefore, as a tale to be told, it is rather exotic and unique -- not many others would do such a thing and bring us the account.
Publication date2004
PublicationBroadway (2004), Paperback, 272 pages
ISBN0767915305 / 9780767915304
Number of volumes1
Number of copies1
Dimensions7.9 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
Weight0.8 pounds
LC ClassificationGN671.K57T76
Primary languageEnglish
SummaryThe Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific by J. Maarten Troost (2004)
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