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

4.6 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Beyond The Coral Sea: Travels in the Old Empires of the South-West Pacific
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  • Four Corners: A Journey into the Heart of Papua New Guinea
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  • Into the Crocodile Nest: A Journey Inside New Guinea
Total price: £34.97
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Product details

  • Paperback: 454 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; New Ed edition (11 Aug. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006552358
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006552352
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 612,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

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.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fascinating read about a little visited and often forgotten part of the world. Michael Moran has a real passion for the subject and this flows through the book and makes it highly enjoyable to read. I leant a lot reading this book, In summary very good.
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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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Format: Paperback
This was a satisfying and thought provoking read. Having lived in the South Pacific for a long time (New Zealand and Australia) I have never been up as far as the Coral Sea. It was therefore a joy to read a book which attempts to chronicle the historical first contact between indigenous Melanesian and colonising Europeans and its legacy. As with Polynesia, there is a distinct impact of colonisation that has re-shaped traditional societies and frequently let by Christianity. In Mr Moran's travels it is apparent although these influences are present, they have been more adapted and older values cut through the western morality and values with frequently terrifying outcomes. But so to emerge a richness in different beliefs and social mores, sometimes short distances provide examples of extreme differences in the protocols people's daily lives are defined by. Mr Moran is a gifted writer, a fine story teller and accomplished historian. This is a book I will long treasure.
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