Michael Leahy, James Taylor and their indigenous crews searched for gold in the New Guinea Highlands during the 1930's. They found perhaps a million previously unknown people of some 5,000 different tribes speaking 2,000 different languages - each tribe isolated by mutually enforced strict boundaries. When Leahy first entered the Highlands in 1930 he took a camera but rarely used it. By 1933 he saw himself as not only a gold prospector and entrepreneur but an explorer with an unparalleled opportunity to document a unique event. In 1980 the authors found some 5,000 professional quality 35mm photos and several hours of 16mm videos. This resulted in a TV documentary and this book which presents dozens of the more spectacular photos.
The exhilaration of first contact between modern explorers and people from primitive culture is re-enacted repeatedly as Leahy and Taylor travel with the impunity that the tribal folks cannot - the security of their guns always available. They admit to causing some 40-50 unavoidable native fatalities when things got out of hand.
Authors Connolly and Anderson interviewed not only the explorers, but many of the New Guineans who remembered the first contacts. It was easier than you might think. All they had to do was retrace the paths of Leahy and Taylor, well-documented in their journals and photos. When kids invariably welcomed them to a village, usually similarly named from 50 years before, they just asked to speak to the old people.
Captivating photos document the emotions of the "discovered" on every third or fourth page of this remarkable memoir. Definitely worth reading.