Beyond The Coral Sea: Travels in the Old Empires of the South-West Pacific Paperback – 11 Aug 2009
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‘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
Short-listed for the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award 2004
‘A big book, filled with tales of wonder, sadness and extraordinary behaviour… there is no faulting his research, his integrity, or his ability to transport us to a very different and wonderful part of the globe.’
Anthony Sattin, Sunday Times
‘Recounts the adventures of a host of historical characters, ranging from a distinguished Polish anthropologist who was fascinated by the sex lives of natives to a young Errol Flynn who enthusiastically joined in. Moran’s work has all the ingredients of a fine travelogue… His research is meticulous… Everything you wanted to know about cannibalism but were afraid to ask is here.’
Gavin Bell, Daily Telegraph
‘If you’ve room for only one book in your baggage this year, take this one. Elegantly and powerfully written, evoking steaming jungle gorges, enervating heat, idyllic coral beaches, wrecked ships, deserted towns and people caught in limbo between the savage past and hopeless future, it is the work of a true traveller…….a meditation on the nature of humanity itself.’ Celia Brayfield, The Times
‘A beguiling account, both romantic and fascinatingly horrible, of an abrupt transition from the Stone Age to the present era of high technology in the islands collectively called Papua New Guinea… [Moran] is a reporter with a painterly eye, a tape-recorder ear and a dry sense of humour that enliven all his encounters… Reading this picturesque book may be as good as visiting Papua New Guinea, perhaps better.’
Patrick Skene Catling, Irish Times and Irish Independent
‘…this is not a quick flip around the islands, but rather a cultural history and a philosophical meditation on the nature of human existence where ‘primitive societies’ come into abrupt and painful collision with ‘modern civilisation’……..his studied, detached but sympathetic calm is the dominant mood and style throughout this impressive and serious-minded book.’
The Times Literary Supplement
‘Moran’s fascination with the social habits of the region, his enthusiasm for his subject, his thorough research and his energetic travels have provided him with a richness of material so often lacking in travel books.’
Anthony Sattin, Sunday Times from ‘Travel Books: The Class of 2004 - Who will win the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award this year?’
‘He evokes not only the steaming rainforest and white-sand beaches, but the imperatives of an ancient people who are slipping from the grip of capitalism and Christianity……….Moran’s depiction makes you question the real nature of humanity.’
New Statesman – Recommended Christmas Books 2004
‘BEYOND THE CORAL SEA is a captivating book. Written in the tradition of the great Victorian travel narratives, it provides a glorious insight into one of the world’s most unknown quarters. Michael Moran has proved himself as a writer of astonishing ability and is a master of the most magical prose.’
Tahir Shah (Author of SORCERER’S APPRENTICE; TRAIL OF FEATHERS; IN SEARCH OF KING SOLOMON’S MINES).
‘Even iron-clad stomachs will reel at the accounts……left me questioning the sanctity of my own cultural perceptions. Moran’s description of his journey through these remote islands broadens horizons, in more ways than one.’
Wanderlust Travel Magazine
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.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Took this book with me to read on holiday as I was going to Papua New Guinea and the islands. Loved it as I went to many of the places in the book and found the reports I read were... Read morePublished on 18 April 2014 by Mrs Barbara J Archer
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. Read morePublished on 25 May 2012 by ngimangi