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An Island to Oneself Hardcover – September, 1990

ISBN-13: 978-0918024763 ISBN-10: 0918024765 Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 255 pages
  • Publisher: Ox Bow Press; Reprint edition (September 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0918024765
  • ISBN-13: 978-0918024763
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #208,831 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

This book, and Tom Neale as a person, mean so much to me personally.
J.J. Medusa
I simply loved this book, and will read it anytime I feel the need to "get away" from it all.
L. Fitzgerald
I thought Mr Neale's book was very well written and was very interesting to read.
William L Stone

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

79 of 82 people found the following review helpful By S. Starke on February 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
No video cameras and immunity for Tom Neale, he did the real deal all by himself for years on a deserted atoll.

A fascinating story of what it takes to survive and a great character study of the type of person who can/would do it.

Tom lived the lazy island life but wasn't satisfied and finally went out to pull a Robinson Crusoe (at the age of 50!). And this was in the 50s. He had no satellite phone to get him out in an emergency, no doppler weather reports, no Honda(tm) generator.

On top of that, he had no safety net. Off the regular shipping channels, he had no scheduled visits, just some random people who happened to pass by and say hi. It was just his skill, determination and a great knowledge of island living that allowed him to survive and thrive.

His daily struggles (from pesky hermit crabs up to life threatening injuries) are a fascinating peek into a life most people will never experience.

After you finish it, be sure check out Wikipedia and the web for more information (and pics) on his life after this book.

An amazing read that ends much too quickly.
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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful By B. Willis on July 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
First of all there were 28 reviews on this book before mine, 27 of them were 5 star ratings - that tells you people really love this book. I thought it was very good & I along with most of the other reviewers would love to find a place like this to get away to. I am glad that Tom Neale took the time to write about his adventures because beautiful tropical uninhabited islands are something that don't really exist anymore. The events in this book took place just a generation or so ago & the isolation Tom Neale found there is mostly gone nowadays. In the early 1960's Tom would go up to 14 months without even seeing another human being. Compare that to 2006 - online I can see that at this current moment there are 16 sailboats anchored at Suvarov Atoll.

I thought the best moments in the book are when Tom is describing his friend the duck or his cats...or just his total happiness.

I have a couple minor negative points to add: The book was written in 1966 & the newest edition available was printed in 1990. The "postscript" in my 1990 edition says that Tom left Suvarov in December 1963 for a variety of circumstances & was going to live out his days on Rarotonga rather than die a lonely death on an isolated island.

I was very suprised to find out via the internet that he went back in 1967 & lived there until 1977. I think a postscript in a book written in 1990 should have this information in it.

I also thought it was strange that when you read the book Tom describes his life between 1954 & 1960 as a terrible time where daily he tried to find a way to get back to Suvarov , worked in a dreary store & after work would go home every day & work on a boat he was building. He mentions a few friends and not much else. When I looked up his history after reading the book I see that in this time he got married & 2 years after this became a father. I think it just shows that Tom was a very private person by not even mentioning this in his book.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By sandy807 VINE VOICE on October 20, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Like other reviewers, reading this book made me envious of Tom Neale's fulfilled fantasy of living and surviving alone on a beautiful tropical island. Actually, it took him an incredible amount of hard work to get to that point, and even more work, determination, and creativity to provide for all his needs from the limited stores he brought with him and what the island itself offered. He ingeniously found ways to build, cook, raise animals, hunt, and eat. Tom enjoyed the challenge of survival, yet his physical toughness was sometimes severely tested in battling the elements. I lived every beautiful and frustrating moment with him (in my imagination, of course). One reviewer mentioned that Tom must have married and had two kids because the reviewer had just ordered one of his books about his sailing adventures, but that is a different Tom Neale that is currently living. The Tom Neale of An Island to Myself passed away quite a few years ago, and I'm pretty sure he remained a bachelor. Fun book!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Joel Platt on January 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Tom's "Island to Oneself" is a must read. It is a story that one can connect with regardless of background, social, economic or otherwise.

Being a great fan of the south pacific I now have an even greater drive to remain a fan of that bright, hot and so alive place.

My dream is to move to an island one day, maybe not in such remote and isolated conditions as Mr. Neale, but to `My Island' nonetheless.

I was sad when Tom's story closed but have been motivated to seek other literary routes to islands south while I remain here temporarily `stranded' in my desert!

God bless Mr. Neale's soul and may Tom forever rest in peace

I also recommend the following Great Island Stories (to name a few):

"Island of Desire" Robert Dean Frisbie

"Man on His Island" James S. Rockefeller Jr.

"Lost Island" James Normal Hall

"Rascals in Paradise" James A. Michener & A. Grove Day

"Robinson Crusoe" Daniel Defoe

"Kon-Tiki" Thor Heyerdahl

"Tales of the South Pacific" James A. Michener
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Basil MacDougal on June 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I wanted and expected so much more from this book than it delivered. This is Neale's account (with the help of writer, Noel Barber) of his first stay on the island. He discuses his day to day struggles to keep food, repair his lodging, rebuilding of a peer, and the occassional visitor. What is missing is any kind of introspection at all. He claims he was never lonely and he never made any mention of his thoughts whatsoever. Was he affraid? He's on a deserted island all alone. Laying in bed at night did he ever fear for his safety? Did he ever stop to think about life? Wonder what other people were doing in civilization? We will never know.
So, I thought perhaps what I could salvage from this story might be in gaining some tips on how to survive alone on an island. Wrong. There aren't enough details to help in this area either. He simply mentions the work that he had to perform, what kind of food he was eating, and his plans for future work on the island.
If you think this is going to be some kind of romantic getaway kind of story, you will be disappointed. If you think it is going to be a heartfelt memoir or an in depth exploration into one man's life, you will be disappointed.
Neale stayed on the island 3 seperate times. This is an account of the first stay. After returning to Rarotonga, he married Sarah Haua in 1956. They had two children, Arthur and Stella. He went back to the island alone in 1960, leaving wife and children behind. He lived on the island for 4 years, went back to Rarotonga until 1967 and then back to Suwarrow where he lived until stomach cancer forced his return to civilization in 1977. He died 8 months later. [...]
Having knowledge of Tom Neale, first fleeing society all together, and then leaving his wife and children, certainly makes one question his charachter and takes away any ounce of "romance" that might be associated with his story.
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