Book reviews: December 2014

At the West End: Temlett Conibeer in West Papua by A.C.T. Marke
Australia’s Real Baptism of Fire by Greg Raffin
Taking to the Skies by Jim Eames
Taubada Time: Papua New Guinea by Noel Tunny

Australia’s Real Baptism of Fire by Greg Raffin
ISBN: 978-1-74130-594-4 Published 2014 Soft cover 237pp 32 photographs, 4 maps, index, references/footnotes, and appendix, including a crew list for the AE1.
RRP $29.95 from Dymocks, AWM, Shrine of Remembrance (Melbourne), Five Senses Education Pty Ltd, 2/195 Prospect Hwy, Seven Hills NSW 2147 Ph: (02) 9838 9265

At the West End: Temlett Conibeer in West Papua by A.C.T. Marke
Frogmouth Press, Low Head, Tasmania, 2014, ISBN: 9780646919164, 300 pages. $30, including postage from the author at 187 Low Head Road, Low Head, Tasmania, 7235 or by e-mail.
This is the fourth in Andrew Marke’s Temlett Conibeer novels.
The central character in all the novels is an ultra-conservative Englishman with distinct Victorian attitudes who works in pre-independence Papua New Guinea as during WW2.
One of the major problems with the first three novels was working out where Andrew Marke begins and Temlett Conibeer finishes. This conundrum has confused many readers and attracted adverse criticism. The confusion was mostly caused by the author’s tendency to preach. In this novel he lapses here and there but nowhere near as much as he did in the earlier works. His message is delivered in a much more subtle way.
In this case it revolves around the tragedy of West Papua and the World’s cowardice in condoning what is effectively the political genocide of a people.
It is 1965 and Temlett is due for leave. He is offered a job sussing out the possibilities of salvaging WW2 debris in West Papua by a scrap metal dealer. He cancels his ticket to England and accompanied by his SS friend, Eric Mueller, illegally crosses the border at Wutung.
He is befriended by OPM sympathisers who lead him to the capital, then called Sokarnopura (Hollandia/Jayapura). As the plot thickens Temlett and his friend become involved with a Nazi fugitive who has the handwritten diary of Hitler’s consort, Eva Braun, for sale. Suffice to say there are the usual convoluted Temlett complications with the fairer sex. A mysterious American who helps Temlett when he lands in gaol turns out to be a surprising take on an enduring mystery.
With this novel, Andrew Marke has considerably matured as a writer. This is most obvious in the construction of the narrative. In the earlier novels the plots tend to meander and are littered with annoying and irrelevant tangents. This one clips along in a logical and entertaining way without any major distractions.
The novel is dedicated to the late David Wall and I think he would have enjoyed it immensely. For my part, I’m still intrigued enough to wonder what Temlett will get up to next.

Taubada Time: Papua New Guinea by Noel Tunny
$29.95. Boolarong Press, Brisbane, 2014, 178 pages, ISBN: 9781925046526
Noel Tunny, 83, has written about searching for oil in Papua New Guinea. In 1954, he was 23 years old and working as a surveyor for the Australasian Petroleum Company.
His book is “a narrative spiced with anecdotes and observations that will entertain immensely” wrote Emeritus professor Malcolm Thomis, Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.
There is also a foreword from Kim Beazley who wrote “Tunny has done a service with his writing and has made the era live.” “The histories of many engaged mid-century with Papua New Guinea, throw light on our understanding of developmental Issues in this vital part of the world for us.”

Taking to the Skies by Jim Eames
ISBN: 9781743315941 Paperback / softback Publisher: Allen & Unwin Pages: 380 Plates: 24 Dimensions (mm): 234 x 153 x 30mm Weight: 0.5kg
So how do you test drive a Jumbo? And why did a civil aviation director once taxi a plane down Perth’s main street to attend a ball? From the ridiculous to the downright dangerous, the story of Australian aviation is full of tales of adventure and nation building. It is also a story about tragedy and eccentric characters with wild larrikin spirits. In this surprising, fascinating and sometimes very funny collection, Jim Eames brings together the great forgotten and untold tales of Australian aviation. There are the stories of the Catalina flying boats that were Australia’s only aviation link to the UK during World War II and that of Qantas’ record-breaking non-stop flight across the world. And what of the long-forgotten hijacks and the dramas of the Darwin airlifts after Cyclone Tracy? Entertaining, nostalgic and very readable, the stories Jim tells will certainly make you want to take to the skies.
Jim’s book is a wonderfully enjoyable book to read. It has a 34-page chapter that deals specifically with Qantas’ history in Papua New Guinea that bought back many memories to me. The compilation of facts and anecdotal tales keep the reader’s interest all through the book.

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