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Transit of Venus by Julian Evans
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Transit of Venus (1992)

by Julian Evans

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"The Pacific is not just a third of our planet...it is the tide-beating heart of Earth, the canary in our coal-mine", 26 September 2015

This review is from: Transit of Venus: Travels in the Pacific (Hardcover)
Travelogue in which the author takes in most of the Pacific nations: sailing out from Sydney, he visits New Caledonia, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands. For me, the disadvantage of covering so many places in a relatively short (270 p) work was that this reader ended up with a somewhat jumbled picture as to exactly what happened where.
If you're expecting a romantic work of palm trees and beauty, this book doesn't contain too much of that: the author explains "the Pacific that most interested me was a post-nuclear ocean of bad politics, bad aid, bad faith: the more dystopian it was, the more I liked it...I consciously avoided most of the reputedly peaceful, friendly, unpolluted, apolitical or beautiful places."
Certainly I feel I've learnt a lot about the Pacific, notably the Marshall islands, home of the Bikini atoll and ongoing US military testing. While the Americans are billeted on the US-only base of Kwajalein (with all mod cons), the native labour force are housed on a cramped and dirty neighbouring islet, malnourished on the refined foods shipped in by America. He describes the people, removed from their natural lives before the white men came: "Among the young men there was the same kind of jiggling of the legs that I had noticed with uraki, a repetitive muscular tic that went on constantly and reminded me of male polar bears in a zoo, pacing up and down...caused by removal from their snow caves and plains of ice."
A vivid picture of the negative side to the islands of Oceania. ( )
  starbox | Sep 26, 2015 |
A travel book of an area of the world most people consider Paradise, but on this journey with Author Julian Evans that is not the case. The place I am referring to is the South seas but Julian visits the overlooked or in some cases the underside of these islands and the results are funny, sad, depressing. After reading this book I definitely know where not to go in the South Pacific. ( )
  zmagic69 | Mar 25, 2012 |
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All things of the sea belong to Venus; pearls and shells and alchemists' gold and kelp and the riggish smell of neap tides, the inshore green, and purple further out and the joy of distances and the roar of falling masonry, all these are hers, but she doesn't come out of the sea for all of us.-----------JOHN CHEEVER
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For my mother and father
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Somewhere in Sydney, a water-city with a gothic heart and an unquenchable thirst, there is a fat man with a sunburnt face called Norman.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0749391650, Paperback)

The Pacific Ocean calls to mind Marco Polo's fabulous kingdoms and the Noble Savage, the guilt-free sex and gin-clear lagoons of Polynesia, and the perfection of idleness on desert islands. Since Captain Cook first went to Tahiti to observe the transit of Venus across the sun, the dream of the Pacific has never lost its force. The journey narrated in this book begins with a much more modern myth - a photograph of a Last Judgement sky glowering on the horizon and spears of light spreading down into the ocean - re-entry vehicles from a "Peacekeeper" missile. It was the source of this man-made vision that Julian Evans decided he had to see. But the journey became a wanderer's tale. Delayed on his way to the "Peacekeeper"'s target by the stories of both white men and islanders, Evans found himself tracing the bizarre outcome of the Pacific dream. For Europeans it is a place of secrets and illusion, where interlopers lose themselves in schemes and drink-fever. For the islanders, beset by gifts of money and military ambitions, there is nowhere else to go. Few places illustrate more powerfully the creeping destructivness of civilization.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:46 -0400)

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