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An Island to Oneself [Hardcover]

Tom Neale , Noel Barber
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 1990 0918024765 978-0918024763 Reprint
Thomas Francis "Tom" Neale (November 6, 1902 - November 27, 1977)[1] was a New Zealander bushcraft and survival enthusiast who spent much of his life in the Cook Islands and 16 years in three sessions living alone on the island of Anchorage in the Suwarrow atoll, which was the basis of this autobiography.

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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 (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #274,479 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
79 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing story of a real "Survivor" February 20, 2006
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Suvarov sounds like a beautiful place July 24, 2006
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Take me away! October 20, 2001
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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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Neat read, but better options out there. December 8, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This was an interesting book, although I didn't think quite as highly of it as the other reviewers. The author does provide an honest and articulate account of his self-imposed exile on a desert island. Unfortunately, there is little drama or adventure and the greatest hardships appear to be the author's lack of company and his longing for luxury items like cigarettes and meat (no joke)! While Tom shows ingenuity and creates a comfortable little setup for himself on the island, his starting point was a sturdy cabin left behind by the island's previous inhabitants...and this was stocked with a laundry list of supplies that he specially ordered and shipped there from his jumping off point (ie. this is no Alexander Selkirk story). Perhaps the book's greatest asset is its insight into the psyche of someone who would try something like this and the underlying theme (although Tom tries to deny this throughout much of the book) that humans are social beings and that we really do need to be around others. For those in search of a truly fascinating and gripping non-fiction read about human triumph over adversity (with adventure, travel, culture and nature mixed in), a much better option is "PADDLE TO THE AMAZON" by Don Starkell.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
yes best book Ive read in last few years. I really like details, so I would have liked even more nuts and bolts description of exactly what he took to the island ie quantities of... Read more
Published 9 days ago by susan glazier
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing story
Mr. Neale has done a wonderful job of taking you with him on this incredible odyssey. I hope I get a chance to visit this incredible place before I die. Great short read!
Published 3 months ago by wander1578
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating!
A very fascinating first-hand account of a modern day Robinson Crusoe. Neale wasn't some crazy hermit, and he wasn't stranded against his will; he took on his vacation willingly... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Judy Kaloostian
5.0 out of 5 stars One of My Top 20 Favorite Books
Who would think you could write such a fascinating
story of living by yourself on a tiny speck of an island.

Masterfully done. Worth re-reading ten years later.
Published 5 months ago by Francis Wandell
5.0 out of 5 stars This is one of my all time favorites.
this book is one of my all time favorites, I keep giving them away to my friends. This is my third copy.

Published 7 months ago by Kai
4.0 out of 5 stars Awesome tale of adventure in solitude.
Tom Neale's account of his island adventure sure stirred my imagination. His writing style is very graphioc and the story flows well untill the ending. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Surf Deep
5.0 out of 5 stars Erimitical lifestyle extraordinaire
A well written book about how one person survives alone on a remote island, in self-inflicted happy loneliness. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Peter Brams
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read for any South Pacific bound travelers
Great book, a must read if visiting the Cook Islands! If you read this book, you will find yourself wanting to sell everything and build a cabin on a motu in the South Pacific.
Published 8 months ago by Eric
5.0 out of 5 stars Short, simple...true
I don't ask for much from a person that doesn't write professionally. This was a great book and didn't try to be what it wasn't (this is not a travelogue). Read more
Published 10 months ago by Patrick
5.0 out of 5 stars escape to paradise
This book was wonderful. Tom Neale accomplishes what most people would love to do in their lifetime. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Kristy Thompson
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