- Lonely Planet Samoan Islands
"Far and away the best book about the Pacific of our times. Julian Evans is the Robert Louis Stevenson of the post-nuclear Pacific"
- Norman Lewis
From Magellan and Captain Bligh to James Michener and Rodgers and Hammerstein, the Pacific Ocean has had a profound hold on our imagination. It conjures dreams of Marco Polo's fabulous kingdoms, of Rousseau's noble savage, of guilt-free love, spring-clear lagoons and perfect idleness on desert islands. Since Captain Cook first sailed to Tahiti to observe the transit of Venus across the sun in 1769, the lure of the Pacific has never lost its force.
Acclaimed on its first publication, and now reissued in a revised edition with a preface by the doyen of 20th-century travellers, Norman Lewis, this modern classic recounts Julian Evans' travels through a new Pacific, where the islanders have money and alcohol, military bases, atomic explosions, rising sea levels and other eco-disasters.
His quest was for the source of a modern myth, a photograph of a Last Judgment sky and spears of light streaking into the ocean: re-entry vehicles from a US Peacekeeper ballistic missile. Delayed by the stories of white men and islanders on his way to the Peacekeeper's target - a place that has probably done more for the arms race than anywhere on Earth - his journey became a wanderer's tale. On a slow boat from Australia to the Marshall Islands, he documents with passion, lyrical sadness and biting comedy the loss of innocence and the corruption of the Pacific dream - and of the islanders' reality - by the interlopers who first succumbed to it. From New Caledonia and Fiji to Vanuatu, Western Samoa and the atolls of Micronesia, Transit of Venus remains a potent and luminous elegy for a fragile, beautiful, vanishing paradise.
"I was immensely impressed with Transit of Venus. It’s so alive and unusual, not to say well-written, with a gem virtually on every page. There are few places so remote as the South Seas which yet parade as many rich and familiar associations with Britain. But when you look for illumination, to whom do you go? Paul Theroux and Julian Evans - and then the list peters out. It should be in print’
- Nicholas Shakespeare