Book Reviews: December 2010

Distrust territory by Donald Denoon
Food and agriculture in Papua New Guinea. Editors: R. Michael Bourke, Tracy Harwood
The Coastwatchers by Patrick Lindsay
To Salamaua by Phillip Bradley

Distrust Terrritory by Donald Denoon
ISBN 0-9714127-6-6, co-published 2010 by University of Papua New Guinea Press and Bookshop and Masalai Press, 199 pages. Softback, available through the publisher, UPNG Press K65. Also available through Amazon US$15.56.
In this richly intelligent novel the Pacific historian Donald Denoon explores the complex relationships between Papua New Guineans and Australian expats against a post-independence backdrop. The generational changes and attitudes of both nationalities and their strong allegiances to a politically volatile country are amplified when a young Australian, Rebecca Cooke, joins the campaign for an independent Irian Jaya and is assaulted on the border. Rebecca’s parents Alan and Judy had met as teachers in PNG before independence but after returning to Australia they separated.
When Alan returns to Port Moresby to rescue Rebecca he confronts a world of security experts, raskols and shady politicians. Unexpectedly, he also falls in love with Anna, a former student who is now a journalist. In this unpredictable environment Alan and Anna must forge a new life far from the security of Canberra and very different from the life Alan had led with Judy in the days before Papua and New Guinea became independent.
There is no one better qualified than Donald Denoon to take us through the kaleidoscope of political events that continue to beset Indonesian, Australian and Papua New Guinean relations. With acute insight and a brave and refreshing lack of bias, Denoon understands the country and its people from long and intimate association. He has presented us with both a compelling story and an extraordinary range of characters which is rarely the case in Pacific fiction. Elizabeth Thurston

To Salamaua by Phillip Bradley
ISBN 978-0-521-76390-5 Hardback First Published 2010 by Cambridge University Press, 477 Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne VIC 3207, Australia. 372 pp. Foreword written by Professor David Horner, AM. 48 photographs, 36 maps, a list of abbreviations, notes and bibliography. Available from Cambridge University Press and book stores. Cost: RRP $59.95
Publisher’s Note: Following his acclaimed book The Battle for Wau, Phillip Bradley turns his attention to the Salamaua campaign: the first of the New Guinea offensives by the Australian Army in the Second World War. Opening with the pivotal air and sea battle of the Bismarck Sea, this important title recounts the fierce land campaign fought for the ridges that guarded the Japanese base at Salamaua. From Mount Tambu to Old Vickers and across the Fancisco River, the Australians and their American allies fought a desperate struggle to keep the Imperial Japanese Army diverted from the strategic prize of Lae. To Salamaua covers the entire campaign in one volume for the first time. From the strategic background of the campaign and the heated command conflicts, to the mud and blood of the front lines, this is the extraordinary story.
Phillip Bradley is the author of two previous books in the Australian Army History series, On Shaggy Ridge and The Battle for Wau. He writes for After the Battle and Wartime magazines.

The Coastwatchers by Patrick Lindsay
ISBN 9781741669244 (pbk) First published 2010 by William Heinemann. 416pp incl maps, photos, appendix, bibliography and index. From Random House and book sellers RRP $34.95
The Coastwatchers explores the heroic exploits of the tiny band of men “formerly government officials, planters, traders, miners, missionaries or locals and later soldiers and sailors” left behind during the Japanese occupation of the Pacific Islands. Living on the edge, always on the alert for Japanese patrols or changes in villager attitudes, the Coastwatchers were extraordinary heroes of the Pacific War who risked their lives when the Japanese had total control of the region and discovery meant certain death. From their jungle hideouts they gave early warnings of Japanese air strikes, reported on the movement of ships and troops and personally saved hundreds of lost soldiers, shipwrecked sailors and downed airmen (including the future President of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy).

Food and agriculture in Papua New Guinea. Editors: R. Michael Bourke, Tracy Harwood
ISBN 9781921536601 (pbk) ISBN 9781921536618 (pdf)
A major book titled Food and Agriculture in Papua New Guinea was recently launched in Port Moresby by the former Deputy Prime Minister, Sir Puka Temu. The book was edited by Mike Bourke and Tracy Harwood at the Australian National University. It is published by ANU Press in Canberra.
The book is comprehensive at about 660 pages in length. It contains 165 tables and 215 maps and figures. AusAID gave a generous grant to the Australian National University to publish and distribute the book PNG, so it is being distributed in PNG free-of-charge. If you have colleagues or friends in PNG who could use a copy, send an email requesting a copy to Sue Rider at ANU ( The book is being distributed in PNG by UPNG Bookshop.

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