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Beyond the Coral Sea: Travels in the Old Empires of the South-West Pacific Paperback – 11 Aug 2009


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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; (Reissue) edition (11 Aug. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006552358
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006552352
  • Product Dimensions: 19.9 x 12.9 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 66,414 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Moran has led a varied and adventurous life. Born and educated in Australia and Europe, he spent his twenties wandering the islands of Polynesia and Melanesia. He finally settled among the descendants of the Bounty mutiny on Norfolk Island off the eastern Australian coast. As the Broadcasting Officer for the Administration, he helped establish the radio station.

Subsequently pursuing a career in music, he studied the piano and harpsichord professionally in London for many years, facilitated by his academic work as an English teacher. He has lectured on a variety of subjects, ranging from the music of Fryderyk Chopin and François Couperin to British art and architecture and the colonial history and culture of the South Pacific region. His historical novel, 'Point Venus', set in the former British penal settlement on Norfolk Island, was successfully published in Australia. (Brandl & Schlesinger, Sydney 1998).

Posted for some years to Poland shortly after the fall of communism, his life-long fascination with Melanesia drew him to the work of the enigmatic Polish anthropologist, Bronislaw Malinowski. This encounter and an abiding interest in the German Pacific Empire precipitated his latest return to the South Seas. 'Beyond the Coral Sea: Travels in the Old Empires of the South-West Pacific' was the fruit of this expedition through the island provinces of Papua New Guinea (HarperCollins, London 2003 and Flamingo 2004). The book was short-listed for the 2004 Thomas Cook Travel Book Award and is still in print.

He has most recently written 'A Country in the Moon : Travels in Search of the Heart of Poland', a memoir,residence, cultural and historical book chronicling his adventures in Poland immediately following the fall of communism. Published by 'Granta'. The book continues to be popular both in the English and Polish translation (Kraj z Księżyca: Podróże do serca Polski Wydawnictwo Czarne, Warszawa 22 Marzec, 2010r.)

Lately he was competitively awarded a generous literary grant by the Australia Council (the cultural arm of the Australian government) to write the biography of his great-uncle, the once internationally famous and glamorous but now forgotten Australian concert pianist Edward Cahill (1885-1975). This pianist was active in the 1920s and 1930s in London, Paris and the French Riviera. A severely edited version of his colourful life featured in the Prologue to A Country in the Moon. The book is provisionally entitled 'The Pocket Paderewski: Scenes from the Remarkable Life of the Australian Concert Pianist Edward Cahill'. Re-mastered historic recordings of Chopin and Liszt made by Cahill in the 1930s will accompany the book.

A Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a lecturer there and an incessant traveller, he lives and works in Warsaw, Sydney and London.

For more details on books,reviews,video interview, blog and work in progress:

Website: www.michael-moran.net

Blog and Work in progress: www.michael-moran.com

Video Interview: http://off-press.org/main/multimedia/off_video/


Product Description

Review

‘Everything you wanted to know about cannibalism but were afraid to ask is here.’ Daily Telegraph

‘Filled with tales of wonder, sadness and extraordinary behaviour.’ Sunday Times

From the Publisher

East of Java and west of Tahiti a bird of dazzling plumage stalks the Pacific over the Cape York Peninsula of Australia. In her wake, she spills clusters of emeralds on the surface of the deep. These are the unknown paradise islands of the Coral, Solomon and Bismarck Seas lying off the east coast of Papua New Guinea.

Along the way Michael Moran explores the role of superstition, magic rites and the occult in the lives of the islanders, including the trading route of the Kula Ring which unites many tribal island groups in a mystical exchange of symbolically valuable objects, one set travelling clockwise around the ring, the other anti-clockwise. His narrative is interwoven with the stories of eccentric residents past and present – such as the self-styled ‘Queen Emma’ of New Britain, who was born of an American father and a Samoan mother and built up a large empire of copra plantations, as well as trading in the fabled obsidian (black volcanic glass) and entertaining on a lavish scale with imported food and French champagne. Moran describes the historic anthropological work of Malinowski in the Trobriand Islands and also catches up with some of the adventurers, mercenaries, explorers, missionaries and prospectors he has encountered on previous journeys.

The islands were the last inhabited place on earth to be explored by Europeans and even today many remain largely unspoilt, despite the former presence of German, British and even Australian colonial rulers. In addition there has been a recent resurgence of cannibalism in the remoter areas. But rather than a tale of cannibals and blood, this is a journey in the romantic and adventurous spirit of Robert Louis Stevenson and an exploration of encroaching change in remarkably diverse cultures. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 3 Sept. 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is the first book on the Island Provinces of Papua New Guinea rather than the Highlands for a hundred years and what a brilliant book it is! Finely-written with beautiful photographs (particularly of children and island landscape) as well as excellent maps.
Clearly a product of extensive research, this book gives the reader a balanced insight into a vanishing world in a way that is both informative and entertaining. The islands are still almost pristine and 'stone-age' in character but not for much longer I fear.
This is travel writing of the highest quality about a place most readers are highly unlikely to visit. The account of the great Polish anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski in the Trobriand "Islands of Love" is both penetrating and enlightening. Moran is one of those rare travel writers who respects what he sees and communicates this to the reader with dry humour and deep understanding. Life in Papua New Guinea can be both "terrible and wonderful" by turns - Moran steers us through the cultural labyrinth with great talent. I am looking forward to the Polish edition!
"Beyond the Coral Sea" should become the standard work and required reading for anyone contemplating a trip to Papua New Guinea - even those who are not.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By James Walsh on 27 Jan. 2005
Format: Paperback
Moran's style and humour prevails throughout this compelling and meaningful book. From start to finish one is engulfed into a world so unlike anything that exists in the west. For that very reason, you cannot help but feel a sense of excitement and adventure. Add into that his dry (with an 'old world' British twist) sense of humour and it becomes captivating. It's clear that Moran's subjects are all very well researched. The depth and breath of knowledge of this obscure place and its people can only have come from someone who has a genuine interest in it, and enough passion in him to actually go there! It's this interest and passion that shines through, making it (in my opinion) one of the most unusual and offbeat travel books around today.
If you're bored with your humdrum life, and dream of flights of fancy in far away places, then this is the book for you. The concept of this book has actually inspired me to travel to far away places too. I left my boring life in London behind to travel the continent of South America for 2 years, and a lot of the impetus I needed to make that move was generated by reading "Beyond the coral sea". Thanks Michael Moran!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Crane on 10 Oct. 2008
Format: Paperback
Picked this up quite by chance but (unlike many other "travel books", I have read) was a page-turner from beginning to end. The author brings to life the subject matter so that (as is intended from a book in the genre) you really wish you could go to New Guinea.
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By ngimangi on 25 May 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed this book not least because it gave me a whole new insight into the "western" rose tinted glasses of pacifica and papua new guinea. Being of mixed parentage, new hanover png & yorkshire, england via zambia, africa. i appreciated looking through the "white man's eyes" as he visited places i am overly familiar with. Whilst I share the authors dismay for the breakdown of "kastom" in the islands I found many of his insights alarming. For one I had no idea that melanesian men were apparently deemed so "aggressive" at first glance to the outsider. I laughed at the writer's dismay of decent "time keeping" and schedules, the lack of life vests on boats and his liberal views on christianity and paganism. Remember my ancestors were cannibals. I have been to the the slaying sites on new hanover. This is nothing to be proud of! The author cites that the west is more pagan than Png...... GOOD! Oh how Europe needs a more conservative approach. The research and history in the book is fascinating. I actually learned more about the malagan here than new ireland! The best parts of this book are the literary style. The language transports you there if you have never been. Papua New Guinea is the greatest place on earth in my opinion. I walk the road in the 1st world but my heart is in the village in the mud under the palms eating sweet potato. This book will take you one step closer to paradise...
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