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The Penguin History of New Zealand by…

The Penguin History of New Zealand (original 2003; edition 2003)

by Michael King

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436435,221 (4.04)22
Title:The Penguin History of New Zealand
Authors:Michael King
Info:Penguin Books (2003), Paperback, 563 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Penguin History of New Zealand by Michael King (2003)



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This is a good narrative history of New Zealand. Its well written and manages to cover the material in a pretty balanced way. I enjoyed the way King explained the geological background and timescales. He also manages not to stay too aloof and general - I enjoyed the material on Thomas Russell for example and his cavalier capitalism at a time when the nation was beginning to really be built.
I'm sure there are parts that will annoy people of most political persuasions. Any material that deals with the relationship between the government and Maori in the nineteenth century is bound to annoy right wingers, and likewise the politically correct academia and Maori activists of the present might have seen red over his assessment of how in the span of time and our relationship with this place all New Zealand have become tangata whenua.
King avoids the awful tendency of many historians to patronise or judge the past (the 'we're so enlightened now' attitude). He is remarkably balanced - not too much of a cheerleader for the Savage government like some histories which seem to think Labour ended the Depression, for example.
Overall a good read for anyone with some interest in New Zealand's history and wanting a good overarching framework for understanding where we have come from. ( )
  bevok | Jul 31, 2017 |
Faintly stunned when I got to the end of this. My first thought was that everyone in NZ should read this approachable, comprehensive bicultural account of our country's history. Unlike Belich's two volumes, it's written for the general reader, not the historian. It's larded with plenty of quotation and vignette to avoid dryness, and I found myself underlining or annotating almost every page. An overwhelming desire to read it again immediately, or at least every year. What a tragedy for King to die not long after revising this; he had many other great books in him. ( )
  adzebill | Mar 31, 2015 |
I bought this as it is widely considered `the' history of my new home - it's in all the shops and is widely known. King's style makes this book an easy read, but not altogether a pleasant one. The overt PC agenda which seeks to over-emphasise the merits of indigenous culture at every turn led me to be particularly pleased when I finished it. I've no axe to grind about this but the overall result is to paint a Maori-focussed picture of modern NZ that bears little similarity to the country that I recognise from nearly two years of living here. The author also makes all the `right' statements about other aspects of the social history of the country.

The content is considerably imbalanced towards literary, artistic and social history at the expense of other areas, e.g. economic and industrial history or foreign relations - almost nothing about agriculture! This is made all the worse by the fact that the title runs to over 500 pages.

In summary, if you are particularly interested in the arts, social `science', and Maori issues then you will love this - it is well written. If not, or you want to get what feels like a balanced account of New Zealand's history then look elsewhere. ( )
  cwhouston | Nov 21, 2010 |
One of the tragedies of 2004 was the loss of Michael King. No question, he had written so many books about New Zealanders who made us all proud to be New Zealanders, that there seemed to be a collective cheer when he wrote this updated history of our country. The amazing thing is that, while all the major events of the country are covered, it’s a really easy book to read. King said that he didn’t want it to be an academic tome, but to be something that all New Zealanders could read. At a time when there seemed to be a touch of dissension in the nation, his calming tone made us all sit up a bit straighter and be thankful for what we have here. ( )
3 vote bibliobbe | Jan 15, 2008 |
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New Zealand was the last country in the world to be discovered and settled by humankind. It was also the first to introduce a full democracy. Between those events, and in the century that followed the franchise, the movements and the conflicts of human history have been played out more intensively and more rapidly in New Zealand than anywhere else on Earth. This title tells that story in all its colour and drama. The narrative that emerges is an inclusive one about men and women, Maori and Pakeha. It shows that British motives in colonizing New Zealand were essentially humane; and that Maori, far from being passive victims of a "fatal impact", coped heroically with colonization and survived by selectively accepting and adapting what Western technology and culture had to offer. The latter part of the book reveals how an insulated and dependent British colony transformed itself into an independent nation, open to and competing with technological and cultural influences sweeping the globe.
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Table of contents includes: Prehistory: to 1000 AD -- Settlement: to 1850 AD -- Consolidation: to 1950 AD -- Unsettlement: post-1950 AD -- Posthistory: configurations, old and new -- New Zealand with provincial boundaries map -- North Island map -- South Island map -- Tribal location map -- Governments of New Zealand… (more)

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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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