Blog Archives

Undercooked, Paul Moon

The Pacific in the Wake of Captain Cook, with Sam Neill
Meaghan Wilson Anastasios
HarperCollins, $45.00,
ISBN 9781460756393

Is there anything new to say about Captain James Cook’s expeditions to the Pacific? Edited accounts of his voyages appeared from 1773 and, in just the last 20 years, over 200 books on this remarkable explorer and mariner have been published. However, it is now 250 years since Cook departed on the first of his great voyages to the South Pacific and, being an anniversary year, what better time to tap into the publicity surrounding his feats? The Pacific in the Wake of Captain Cook accompanies a lavishly-produced television series presented with a comfortable balance of gravitas and intimacy by New Zealand actor Sam Neill. But is this book a cast-off from the television series, or does it stand on its own in any way as a useful contribution to the literature on the topic?

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Down by the river, Nicholas Reid

The Waikato – A History of New Zealand’s Greatest River
Paul Moon
Atuanui Press, $70.00, ISBN 9780994137616

At 425 kilometres, the Waikato is the longest river in New Zealand. The case Paul Moon makes in The Waikato – A History of New Zealand’s Greatest River is that it is also the most culturally significant.

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Gold-panning history, Paul Moon

Rushing for Gold: Life and Commerce on the Goldfields of New Zealand and Australia Lloyd Carpenter and Lyndon Fraser (eds) Otago University Press, $45.00 ISBN 9781877578540 Since 1887, when Vincent Pyke’s History of the Early Gold Discoveries in Otago was

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A shadowy part of the country’s history, Paul Moon

From Alba to Aotearoa: Profiling New Zealand’s Scots Migrants 1840-1920 Rebecca Lenihan Otago University Press, $45.00, ISBN 9781877578793 Migration, Ethnicity, and Madness: New Zealand, 1860-1910 Angela McCarthy Otago University Press, $45.00, ISBN 9781927322000 The 12th century; 1642; 1769. These are

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Posted in History, Māori, Non-fiction, Review

Moving historiographical boundaries, Paul Moon

Man of Secrets: The Private Life of Donald McLean
Matthew Wright
Penguin, $40.00,
ISBN 9780143572213

At the Margin of Empire: John Webster and Hokianga, 1841–1900
Jennifer Ashton
Auckland University Press, $50.00,
ISBN 9781869408251

Those of us interested in reading about the past are increasingly confronted with history as abstraction or abstruse argument. Dense theoretical postulations tend to trump reasoned accounts of events, and entangled academic prose can displace engaging narrative. Here, though, are two biographies which in quite different ways are both antidotes to the creeping sterility of some history-writing, and which provide important perspectives on New Zealand’s maturation as a nation-state during the 19th century.

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Making up New Zealand, Geoff Watson

Encounters: The Creation of New Zealand. A History
Paul Moon
Penguin Books
ISBN 9780143568506

The Voyagers: Remarkable European Explorations of New Zealand
Paul Moon
Penguin Books
ISBN 9780143570554

In a year in which the historical focus is very much on the centenary of WWI, two recently published books by Paul Moon remind us that we have a much longer history than our involvement in that conflict and that there are many ways, other than warfare, through which New Zealand’s identity can, and has been, defined.

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Opening the vaults, Paul Goldsmith

Turning Points Paul Moon New Holland Press, $40.00, ISBN 9781869663797 Visiting the Catlins once, I walked under ancient trees, rimu or possibly beech, which our guide pointed out were more than a thousand years old. The trees pre-dated human population

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Imperial entanglements, Paul Moon

Webs of Empire: Locating New Zealand’s Colonial Past  Tony Ballantyne Bridget Williams Books, $50.00, ISBN 9781927131435 Books on Britain’s colonisation of New Zealand range from the often jingoistic efforts of some writers in the 19th century, through to the heavily

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Receding fast, Kevin L. Jones

New Zealand in the 20th Century: The Nation, The People Paul Moon HarperCollins, $50.00, ISBN 9781869508043 A declaration of interest: as an archaeologist, I am a consumer of 20th-century history. The beginning of the century (1900) is where our Historic

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North and south, Paul Moon

Te Wiremu – Henry Williams: Early Years in the North Caroline Fitzgerald (ed) Huia, $45.00, ISBN 9781869694395   John Larkins Cheese Richardson: “The Gentlest, Bravest and Most Just of Men” Olive Trotter Otago University Press, $45.00, ISBN 9781877578014   For

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Posted in Biography, History, Non-fiction, Review
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