Good Reading : August 2008
history word of mouth North to Matsumae: Australian whalers to Japan Noreen Jones North to Matsumae is an account of the whaling voyage of the Lady Rowena from Port Jackson to Hokkaido in 1830. In 1830 Japan was ruled by the Tokugawa shogunate which restricted contact with the West to a small Dutch trading post in Nagasaki. The Lady Rowena sailed into Hamanaka Bay on south- eastern Hokkaido looking to trade with the locals and effect repairs. The Japanese authorities sent a small force to repel them but before they ar rived the Australians had already bur nt down a house and fired shots in an attempt to take a hostage. When the Japanese soldiers arrived the crew of the Lady Rowena attacked them and after a short and bloodless exchange of fire the Japanese soldiers retreated. One of the Japanese fell off his horse, broke his leg, and was taken prisoner. This then was our first contact with Japan. Perhaps it is just as well that it has remained relatively unknown. Primarily drawn from the ship’s journal of the Lady Rowena’s commander, North to Matsumae provides a glimpse into two fascinating worlds: late Tokugawa Hokkaido and nineteenth-century whaling. The book concludes with a short account of the capture in Hokkaido in 1853 of the crew of a shipwrecked Australian whaler the Eamont. Several of the Australians were drawn by a talented Japanese artist and these handsomely illustrate the book. ★★★ UWA Press $39.95 Reviewed by Grant Hansen Pacific Fury: How Australia and her Allies defeated the Japanese scourge Peter Thompson In Pacific Fury Peter Thompson seeks to provide a narrative history of the Pacific War from an Australian perspective but also seeks to ‘sweep aside’ the ‘smears’ against the Australian conduct of the Pacific war, which he says have been propagated since the fall of Singapore by the likes of historians such as Max Hastings. Hastings’s Nemesis is perhaps the most recent of a long line of unsympathetic non-Australian critiques of the Australian war effort against Japan. Such criticism shocks Australians, brought up as we are on the Anzac tradition and the legendary status of the Aussie digger. And like Thompson, many of us, especially those whose relatives fought in New Guinea and beyond, tend to take the suggestion that the Australians slacked off against the Japanese as a personal insult. However, Pacific Fury offers a fairly balanced overview of Australian British and American operations in the Pacific theatre.Thompson writes well and for anyone seeking a reliable and readable introduction to Australia’s experience in the war against Japan, this is a useful cor rective to the likes of Nemesis. ★★★ William Heinemann $54.95 Reviewed by Grant Hansen Griffith REVIEW Personal, political,[un]predictable. Subscribe now at www.grifthreview.com with the promo code GR2008 to save 20% of the retail price and receive a FREE copy of A Revealed Life: Australian writers and their journeys in memoir – a selection of the best memoir from Grifth REVIEW. riptions will begin with on 21: Hidden Queensland arly August. Tis edition lores how a once-repressive te has become Australia’s new nter of political gravity. P l l l Join the party! Grifth REVIEW celebrates its 5th birthday with a special gif for you!