The Pacific Islands: Paths to the Present

The Pacific Islands: Paths to the Present

The Pacific Islands: Paths to the Present

The Pacific Islands: Paths to the Present


This accessible volume provides a brief introduction to the institutions, policy concerns, and international roles of the Pacific islands. Evelyn Colbert expertly paints an overall picture of the region using broad brush strokes, complementing the mostly specialized literature available about the South Pacific.


The plot of The Pacific Islands: Paths to the Present begins in the 16th-century at the point of contact with the West. Ever since such contact became routine in the 18th-century, many Westerners have equated these islands with Paradise. Author Evelyn Colbert widens our tunnel vision and corrects the old stereotypes with this erudite and informative work on the South Pacific. She delineates the geographic and cultural characteristics that distinguish its major island groups; traces the islands political transition from Western colonies to the mostly independent polities of today; describes issues of governance encountered first by colonial administrators and eventually by the islanders themselves; and discusses their dealings with the outside world, such as nuclear testing and the destructive exploitation of their natural resources.

The Asia Society owes special thanks to Dr. Colbert for her careful research, meticulous writing, and unlimited patience. Deborah Field Washburn and Karen S. Fein edited the volume, and Susan Sokolski worked diligently on the book's production. The Society would like to express its appreciation to Patricia Emerson for her careful and skillful copyediting and Patricia Loo for her attentive proofreading. Finally, thanks to Carol Jones, Lynn Arts, and their colleagues at Westview Press for their support of the project.

The views expressed in this publication are those of the author.

Nicholas Platt
President, Asia Society . . .

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