Transit of Venus

Julian Evans, Author
Julian Evans, Author Pantheon Books $23 (0p) ISBN 978-0-679-41637-1
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The ``noble savages'' of the islands of the South Pacific now have money and alcohol, military bases, atomic explosions and a good deal of Christianity. The British on Fiji, the French on New Caledonia and the Americans on the Marshalls have all remade these island paradises in their own images, according to Evans. In Suva, the Fiji capital, the author, a British journalist, walks down Victoria Parade past Albert Park, in a city that ``reeks of the London suburbs.'' (``What do you think we're developing the South Pacific for? So everyone can go shopping,'' a friend tells him.) In New Caledonia, the French are so insistently French that for a long time their navy was the only one in the world to use navigational charts based on the Paris meridian rather than the international standard, the Greenwich meridian. The Americans on the Marshalls Islands have made Kwajalein into a ``real nice . . . suburban trailer-park . . . a great place to bring up the kids,'' Traveling on a slow boat through the islands, Evans documents in sorrowful detail, interspersed with excellent historical background, the loss of innocence. (Oct.)
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