Sunday, August 29, 2004

The Penguin History of New Zealand

Written by Michael King

So everyone else and his dog has been reading this book, and I picked it up about two months ago and just finished it this morning. New Zealand history is one subject that seems to make most peoples eyes glaze over, probably conditioning from incredibly tedious high school social studies classes, but as I said, almost everybody in the country seems to be reading this book, which goes to show how well-written and engaging it is. (Another reason everyone is reading it is of course that Michael King just died, which is bound to help sales.)

I breezed through this book much faster than I normally do with history books, and I have to say I think it deserves the praise it's been receiving. The book is most easily read a little at a time, as it relates lots of small unrelated historical anecdotes, and the narrative is always jumping back and forth between politics, the environment, and cultural history. The focus of the book is mainly on influential historical individuals, mostly politicians but also artists and activists, and there are certainly a lot of colourful characters in our history to keep things entertaining.

Anyway, I don't seem to have as much to say about this subject as I do about Buffy, so in short, it's a good, accessible history book. An easy eight chainsaws out of ten.

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