Historical Dictionary of Polynesia, 2nd edition by Robert D.
Craig (Asian/Oceanian Historical Dictionaries, 39: Scarecrow Press) deals
not with one country but over a dozen, as well as related countries and assorted
islands. What links them together, aside from location, are cultural and
historical ties which form a similar, if infinitely varied background. This book
can, therefore, explore numerous common themes and variations on those themes.
It can examine how each state or island has evolved and developed up to the
present. It can also consider how they fit in with one another and the rest of
the word, For Polynesia, an essential part of this rest consists of two similar
groupings in the Pacific Ocean‑Micronesia (on which there is already a volume)
If it is useful for parts of
to know more about one another, it is even more helpful for outsiders to know
more about them.
was once remote both
geographically and practically. That, is no longer true. It is increasingly easy
to visit, to invest and trade, to get to know people and places. But many of us
have not realized this and, when we do want to learn more, we may not know where
to lock. Well, this historical dictionary is certainly an excellent starting
point.. As noted, it tells us much about the region, both past and present, It
sheds light on political, economic, social, and cultural aspects. It highlights
noteworthy leaders and institutions. No less important, it provides a detailed
bibliography that covers the region as a whole and etch component part.
It takes an exceptional knowledge of
to draw the many strands together. No one could have done it better than Robert
D. Craig. He is personally familiar with the region, having traveled widely and
frequently over many years. He has also taught others about
as founder and editor of the journal Pacific Studies, publications editor of the
Institute for Polynesian Studies, professor of Pacific history at the
, and until recently director of the
Finally Dr. Craig has written extensively, including a Historical Dictionary of
Oceania, a Historical Dictionary of Honolulu and
, and this second edition of the Historical Dictionary of Polynesia, which
substantially expands on the already extremely useful first edition.
Writing a second edition to any publication gives the author the opportunity to
update and polish previous material, to add new information since the last
edition, and to make corrections that bypassed the author, several readers, and
the editors in the earlier work. Hopefully, this has all been accomplished.
In this edition, every entry dealing with contemporary events was updated where
necessary, a few entries were discarded, and many new ones were added. This
substantially increased the size of the new volume. The total number of pages
would have been much longer, but by using a different font size, we were able to
keep the book within the size limits set by the publisher.
Many of the concerns and problems discussed in the first edition still remain.
To cover as broad a geographical area in the
with its many islands and independent states poses a challenge to any
researcher. The simple matter of how much space to allot to each island group
was difficult. Other questions needed to be asked. For example, is the history
more important than the
? Or, should
be given greater treatment than let's say Tokelau or
simply because their historical data are more readily available? How do you
provide enough detailed information in the main entries for each of the 14
island states' so that the entries are more than just chronological listings of
names, dates, and places? All these endless decisions had to be made at every