Dear Tyrant; An Extraordinary Colonial Life
Wairarapa Archive/Fraser Books, $39.50,
Albert James Allom (1825-1909) always described himself in his numerous and usually self-justifying writings as “Gentleman”, a title that frequently in his latter years brought down on his unbowed head some derision. Not that derision ever seems to have bothered this most resolute self-publicist and controversialist. He was certainly a colourful character, and Barrie Allom, his great-great grandson, strives hard to bring his story to life through copious quotations from Albert’s numerous autobiographical writings. Yet the author cannot quite avoid the conclusion that, although one must admire Albert for his sheer determination, industry and courage in battling adversity, he was not the most likeable of our 19th-century colonial personalities. Nevertheless, his story is worth telling.