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The Penguin History of New Zealand Paperback – October 13, 2003

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Paperback, October 13, 2003
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 564 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (NZ) (October 13, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143018671
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143018674
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.2 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #584,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By David A. Baer VINE VOICE on July 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
Upon visiting New Zealand for the first time two years ago, an enthusiastic Kiwi colleague recommended Michael King's recently published Penguin History of New Zealand as 'a true page-turner'.

Five hundred and seventy pages later, I am almost prepared to agree. It may well be that not even John Grisham could write a true page-turner about this beautiful and endearing country's history. Regardless, Michael King has done about as superb job with the material in hand as one can imagine.

The reigning paradigm that makes itself felt throughout the book is the interaction between Maori and Pakeha, a troubled but not persistently bellicose relationship that colors nearly every aspect of New Zealanders' life up until the present time. Some of course will suspect that this is overstatement by an outsider who cannot know how genuinely normal life on these two islands is most of the time. Perhaps they are right, though it must be conceded that any single volume that attempts a sweeping history of the place must necessarily pay attention to this indivisible division among its mosaic of people.

It is the achievement of that very panoramic coherence and the readable - page-turning might be a stretch - manner in which it is presented that represents the late author's victory. He was patently a man both enamored with and to some degree frustrated by his land and its inhabitants. Just as evidently, he must have loved to talk about that place. Only one who first spoke often and well about it could write so eloquently of his number eight wire country, where almost anything is possible with a little grit and ingenuity. Even a page-turning history - we might finally concede - of New Zealand.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Bernard Piel on September 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
I was fortunate to visit New Zealand this summer. Prior to the trip, I read what I could find on NZ...Captain Cook's travelogues, of course the Lord of the Rings movie books, even dabbled in a Maori-English dictionary. However, all had their shortcomings. I spoke about this with a friend in Lake Taupo (on the North Island), he recommended to me the Penguin History of New Zealand. I followed suit and became hooked!

Michael King, a former professor of New Zealand history at Georgetown University, has written an incredibly detailed and thought-provoking survey of New Zealand history. He challenged popular ideas of the first inhabitants of the islands and raised several interesting arguments (the idea of the Maori's ancestors being traced to Peru being one of my favorites. In all honesty, I still have not completed the book. If I can think of one drawback to the book, it is that Mr. King is no longer here to continue on his work, as he was killed in a car accident shortly before the release of the book.

Nonetheless, if one is looking for a provoking read on one of the world most dynamic democracies, this is a good one.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin Ray on April 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
When I was younger my family and I lived in New Zealand. We moved back to the US while I was still in grade school and for the first time since then we went back this winter. Being older this time I had decide that I wanted to learn a little bit about NZ history. I was luck because New Zealand is such a literal society that they had more than enough suggestions for me. This book however was the book that came up most often when I asked book store. I was real apprehensive to get it though because it looked so long and I had really just been looking for something I could read while on vacation. I couldn't be happier with my decision in the end. For being so thick I was able to read this book in only a couple of weeks and I am not a fast reader. Not only was it a quality book that keep me reading it was also broken up into chapters and sections that made it easy to read. Not living in New Zealand or planning on going back as often as I would like, I only wanted information on certain aspects of NZ history. The way this book read I was able to get into the parts I wanted to and skim over some areas with out feeling like I was missing out on the flow of the book. It had everything I could have wanted to know and more in it. Good read.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Serious photographer on August 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
I should explain that I am an Australian (now also a NZ Citizen)who has lived in NZ for 36 years. Like most Australians, I was almost totally ignorant of NZ before coming here, but have tried to read what has become available over the years in order to gain a better understanding of my adopted country. That reading included the short Penguin history of New Zealand by Sir Keith Sinclair. That history was written with an emphasis on the Pakeha ('European') perspective characteristic of the times. Michael King's book redresses the balance and greatly emphasises the Maori perspective, and Maori/Pakeha relations. I found this fascinating and instructive, and not irrelevant to gaining a better understanding some current social issues. The book is strikingly coherent, and is an easy read because it flows so well. The book is an example of excellent writing. I am left, however, with a strange feeling of unease. Although the book is a long one, there is a feeling that it often just skims the surface. The big picture, as the author saw it, appears to have obscured or even obliterated other material. For example, one is none, or only a little, wiser about how New Zealanders, both Maori and Pakeha, lived at home during World War II and the Great Depression. The author's admiration for NZ soldiers comes through strongly, but is not balanced by an adequate treatment of the appalling, unjust, and well-documented, abuse of conscientious objectors, particularly during World War I. He embraces the scientist Maurice Wilkins as a New Zealander who went abroad to pursue his career: in fact, Maurice Wilkins was born in New Zealand, but taken back to Britain by his parents as a small boy, and never returned.Read more ›
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