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Author Topic: Tonga in the early Colonial era  (Read 1310 times)

Offline chicklewis

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Tonga in the early Colonial era
« on: May 29, 2014, 05:31:24 PM »
Review of “Boy from the Sky” by Nigel Randell

In November of 1806 the increasingly irrational, vacillating commander of the British privateer “Port au Prince” visited the Cannibal Isles of Tonga, where two dozen of his sailors jumped ship.  A few days later, local ruler Finau’s treachery resulted in a massacre of the captain and loyal crew.  The vessel was subsequently plundered and then burned to easily access all the iron nails used in its manufacture.  Tens of thousands of Spanish silver and gold coins on board, (of little value to the Tongans, who did not yet understand the concept of money), disappeared from written history at that moment.

William Mariner, the 15 year old clerk of the Port au Prince, was spared in the massacre, and adopted by Chief Finau the megalomaniacal ruler.   Mariner lived for 5 years as an honored member of Finau’s court before finally engineering his own escape.  

Through Mariner, Finau organized his 20 white men into an artillery unit, building man-portable carriages for four of the ship’s carronades.  He armed his own best warriors with 50 captured muskets and cutlasses, this in a corner of the world where the war club was the ultimate weapon, and where only a few firearms, previously existed.  Using these new weapons, he proceeded to extend his power over all of the islands in the archipelago.  

“Boy from the Sky”  (Tongan’s considered whites to be descended from the heavens) includes the details of two of the battles of Finau’s conquest.  Completely fascinating.   The skirmish-wargame possibilities boggle the mind.  

Author, Nigel Randell, measures up to his reputation as a thorough researcher, even living in the Tongas for years to record still-existing oral histories. This book is an extremely-well-researched, honest and insightful window into the time when almost nothing was known about the small island nation known as Tonga.   and offers a rounded view of what one of the first "palangi's" (non-native people) to encounter the native people living there would have seen. The book is based upon the writings of William Mariner but with huge amounts of additional information about what was going on in this part of the Pacific at the time and many wonderfully interesting tidbits about the history of the region.

Randell also makes a very good case, reading between the lines of European accounts and newspaper archives, as to where the treasure must have scattered and who must have finished up in control of parts of it.  A real-life treasure hunt !!

I was enthralled throughout my reading, my jaw dropping regularly at facts, ethnographic material, and situations of which I had never before heard, or even suspected.  I HIGHLY recommend this book (In spite of the insipid title) to every Lead Adventurer.

Chick says     ‘Order “Boy from the Sky” Today’.  
« Last Edit: May 29, 2014, 05:53:48 PM by chicklewis »
"Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof."

Offline Plynkes

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Re: Tonga in the early Colonial era
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2014, 05:40:31 PM »
Chick says     ‘Order “Boy from the Sky” Today’. 

I may very well just do exactly that. Sounds fascinating. William Bligh fell slightly afoul of the Tongans when trying to navigate to civilisation after the mutiny of the Bounty, as I recall. I've always felt there was skirmish gaming potential for that neck of the woods and the surrounding areas.

Thanks, Chick.  :)
With Cat-Like Tread
Upon our prey we steal...

Offline smirnoff

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Re: Tonga in the early Colonial era
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2014, 06:07:06 PM »
yes, thanks
Can't resist that

Offline marianas_gamer

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Re: Tonga in the early Colonial era
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2014, 07:49:59 PM »
Wow! On the list Chick!
Got to kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight.

Offline juergen c. olk

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Re: Tonga in the early Colonial era
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2014, 08:24:44 PM »
I am in like flint,thanx.!!!!!!!

Offline juergen c. olk

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Re: Tonga in the early Colonial era
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2014, 11:06:58 PM »
I am too weak,and amazon is to easy to use...sigh....can't wait.


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