Book Reviews: March 2011

Distrust Territory by Donald Denoon
Education Officer TPNG by Neil Murray

Education Officer TPNG by Neil Murray
ISBN 978-0-646-54401-4 Published 2010 A4 size 247pp Mostly colour photographs Available from Neil Murray 1003/23 McLeod Street, Cairns QLD 4870 Cost: $50 incl p&p within Australia
Neil writes: “This book tells the story of my five years at Sogeri Secondary School from 1958 to 1962. It is my story [told] through the eyes of a teacher and a foreigner. It was my first experience with a culture different from my own and I hope that my enthusiasm to learn as much as I taught shows through in this book. This is also a story told mainly in photographs, as much as in words. I was a keen photographer before I went to Sogeri and I continued to record my experiences while I was there and on to the present. So I have selected about two hundred of my photographs which provide the framework of this story. The words elaborate what is in the photos and fill in the bits that the pictures leave out. I encourage readers to take the time to look into the photographs to find out what is in there.”
Neil worked in Papua New Guinea for 43 years. In his second year at Sogeri and initiated by the Australian Army, Neil set up the first Cadet Corps at a secondary institution in the Territory. Neil learnt that working with students outside the classroom, “a different set of behaviours came into play”. With the story interwoven around 200 incredible full page photographs, this collage is an important history both educationally and socially.

Distrust Territory by Donald Denoon (also see previous review)
Donald Denoon, author of several books of history including Trial Separation on the independence of Papua New Guinea and Getting under the Skin on the development of the Panguna mine on Bougainville, and general editor of the Cambridge History of the Pacific, has, since retiring as a Professor in Pacific and Asian History in 2004, added fiction to his extensive list of publications. His latest novel is Distrust Territory published by the UPNG Press and Bookshop and Masalai Press, Oakland, California. With a strong plot and compressed, clear prose Denoon explores the attitudes of those Australians of high ideals in the 1970s who now confront apparent incompetence and corruption in PNG and fellow Australians who deplore the granting of premature independence. He is also concerned with Papua New Guineans who are variously ready to grasp power and money, disillusioned but avoiding corruption or bravely battling on. The plot moves between Australia, Port Moresby and the PNG-Indonesian border. It is a novel illuminating personal and policy dilemmas.
Mike Bourke

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