Book Reviews September 2006

Political Parties in the Pacific Islands, edited by Roland Rich with Luke Hambly and Michael G Morgan
The Air War for Rabaul by Ronnie Day
Cloudland Memoirs: Stories from Contemporary Papua New Guinea by Laurie Le Fevre
Khaki and Blue: A Soldier’s and Police Officer’s Life by Angus John MacDonald
Angels of Kokoda by David Mulligan

Political Parties in the Pacific Islands, edited by Roland Rich with Luke Hambly and Michael G Morgan.
ISBN: 1 740761731, 240 pp, soft cover, Published 2006 $34.95 Available from Pandanus Books, Research School of Pacific & Asian Studies, Australian National University, Canberra ACT 0200

This book focuses on the political systems of East Timor, PNG, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji and Samoa.

The Air War for Rabaul by Ronnie Day.
In After the Battle magazine, available from August 2006, pages 2-33, also front and back covers and centre pages. Published by Battle of Britain International Ltd. Available in Australia from Technical Books and Magazine Company, Pty Ltd., 323-331 LaTrobe Street, Melbourne Victoria 3000, , RRP $12.95

This cover story article includes more than eighty images of Rabaul as it was before and during the war and how it is now. Like the hard to find Into the Dragon’s Jaws (McAulay, 1986) and chapters of Hostages to Freedom (Stone 1994) this article provides a detailed history of the air war for Rabaul from the perspective of all the protagonists. Being a magazine article it is more concise than the first two, but does introduce some new perospectives on the campaign, especially from the Japanese side.

After the Battle magazine specialises in comparing images of wartime and bygone military scenes with those of today. Readers of Una Voce who knew Rabaul before September 1994 may be as interested in how Rabaul looks now, twelve years after the eruption. The remaining parts of Rabaul are regaining their bustle and the landscape its beauty, but to some many of the modern views may look more like the wartime scenes than the town that they remember. A collector’s item for war buffs and old Rabaul hands alike.
Reviewed by Steve Saunders

Cloudland Memoirs: Stories from Contemporary Papua New Guinea by Laurie Le Fevre
ISBN: 1920785868, 180pp, Brolga Publishing 2006, soft cover, includes eight pages of photographs and a contextual map, RRP $29.95 from bookshops, or mail orders (please incl $9 postage within Aust) can be sent to me: ,or Better Bookshop, PO Box 12544, A’Beckett Street, Melbourne, 8006, (

“I wrote this while I was working in Papua New Guinea recently. It is a collection of biographical pieces about Papua New Guineans today – the people who work for Ok Tedi Mining Limited and associated organisations. The stories are loosely connected in a series of themes, and the book is aimed at the Australians who knew Papua New Guinea prior to its independence in 1975;…It concentrates on the achievements of the Papua New Guineans working in one of the largest corporations in PNG, and importantly for our members, clearly recognises the enormous contribution Australians made in the pre-independence days.”

Khaki and Blue: A Soldier’s and Police Officer’s Life by Angus John MacDonald
ISBN: 1844014215, 408 pp, Published 2002 by Athena Press, soft cover, photographs and maps included. Available through the internet only: or (W Watson Beaton aka Angus John MacDonald)

This memoir includes Watson’s time with the RPNGC from 1967-1982 during which time he “saw riot control in the islands and clan fighting in the Highlands”.

Angels of Kokoda by David Mulligan with a foreword by the Governor-General, His Excellency Major General Michael Jeffery AC CVO MC (Ret’d)
ISBN 0 7344 0849 Published by Thomas C. Lothian Pty Ltd 2006, 208 pp, softcover, b & w illus, $17.95 from your local bookstore.

The intense Kokoda campaign of 1942 is brought alive to the Australian adolescent in this easy-to-read novel. Through the eyes of two central characters the reader experiences the local Orokaivan culture before WWII and the Japanese attack which throws lives into chaos. There is an unselfconscious harmony between the two boys: Derek, the 12-year-old son of an Australian medical missionary who adopts the culture of his Orokaivan ’blood brother’, Morso. It is refreshing to have an adventure story set in a realistic historical context. With graphic imagery of the environment and war, the story reveals issues of racism, companionship and loneliness. As the war rages around them, differences are forgotten and a new sense of respect is found. Whilst young teenagers of today are made aware of the happenings on the Kokoda track, the protagonist Derek is used as a vehicle to expose and involve the reader in the deeper elements of the campaign. The harsh reality of responsibility, survival and constantly facing death means Derek and Morso are forced into maturity at an early age. This sense of maturity also isolates them as they later try and fit into a normal life amongst an innocent peer group.

Perhaps there is some “political correctness” in the focus on the racial tensions in the story, however the caring and helpful attitudes of the ‘fuzzy wuzzy’ Angels of Kokoda to the Australian soldiers accompany tales of heroism and compassion. This excellent book, with a rare foreword by His Excellency Major General Jeffery, Governor–General of Australia, will give our younger generation a greater understanding and respect when they hear the words “We will remember them’”.
Leilani Williams

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