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Tahiti Handbook Including Easter Island and the Cooks by David Stanley.

... This edition of the Tahiti Handbook includes Tahiti-Polynesia, the Australs, Tuamotus, Gambiers, Marquesas Islands and also Easter Island and the Cook Islands. It is a handy and convenient all-inclusive source for travelers heading in either direction from Tahiti, or across the Pacific.

The Introduction covers the islands in general, their history, and customs. "On the Road" covers holidays and festivals, arts and crafts, services, health, getting around, etc. Interspersed are small gems about the literature of the area, famous movies (Mutiny on the Bounty comes to mind), such esoterica as how to buy a black pearl, and tips for single women who don't wish to be hassled by the local hunks.

The islands or island groups are then taken in order from Tahiti, the Australs, Tuamotus, Gambiers, Marquesas, Easter Island and finally, the Cook Islands.

Stanley is noted for his off-beat "takes" on travel, and he provides a wealth of detail on just about any subject you can imagine. His comments on ecology, conservation, and customs are particularly germane; his descriptions of accommodations on even the most remote spots are invaluable. Stanley travels anonymously when researching his travel books, thus he is not treated as a "favored guest" at hotels, resorts, and restaurants. This means that the reader can trust his opinion and know that he/she will get the same sort of service. Each and every hotel in these islands is included, not just a sampling. As the author points out, luxury hotels separate the traveler from the environment, and the visitor from the culture. He stresses mid-price accommodations, sights and tings to do for the independent traveler.

Looking for a hiking guide? The karaoke bars? Interested in the lost treasure of the Tuamotus? How about Hinano beer? Want to know which resorts pump raw sewage into the bay? The difference between "ecotourism" and "ecoterrorism"? You will find it all in this book.

Review by Georgia Lee in the Rapa Nui Journal. Vol. 13 (3) September 1999.

Review of Micronesia Handbook

I have been traveling to Micronesia for the last decade. But with the hundreds of islands that make up each archipelago, nearly every trip means entering a new place, which then sets into motion a new set of challenges in getting around, learning new customs, developing word lists, and grasping local protocols that often go unexplained. Neil Levy’s Micronesia Handbook is like taking a shortcut through the initial confusion of arrival and the slow acquaintance of place that follows. The introductory chapter provides a sound historical summary of one of the most diverse regions on the planet, occupying an area of 4,500,000 square miles with a land base of less than 0.03%, or 1,245 square miles. It sets the context for any traveler to the western Pacific, and with each succeeding chapter guides both novice and veteran through a variety of information that covers everything from getting around to health tips, to practicalities of food and accommodations, to must-see sights and recreational opportunities.

The book is divided into island groups, countries, U.S. territories and possessions. It begins with the Republic of the Marshall Islands and continues through the Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Palau, Territory of Guam and Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Republic of Nauru, Republic of Kiribati, and American Possessions. With the hundreds (possibly thousands) of islands that shape the region, there is a lot of information to cover. Just providing a summary of traveler’ s needs and concerns for each island group is a monumental undertaking, and one that Mr. Levy has taken on singlehandedly and with seeming ease of effort. He even takes the extra step to provide scattered sidebars of interesting, often esoteric tidbits of information that enrich your experience in these exotic places.

Each island group is unique, with its own history, language and traditions. Mr. Levy tries to capture this diversity through photographs and line drawings, as well as fairly detailed descriptions that cover both the natural and cultural (social, economic, and government organization) environment. To further orient the reader, he provides several maps of the main islands within each archipelago, as well as details of those islands as needed, and all with useful information. The maps are easy to spot too, because they are the only color illustrations in the book; they appear as black and white line drawings on a blue background.

The book is both enjoyable and informative to read, and contains all the basic information one needs to travel through Micronesia, including a table at the back of the book that lists alternative place names. The region is (and has been) undergoing improvements and changes in its orthographies, with new spellings of old places appearing almost daily. The brief number listed in the table is by no means inclusive of all changes; there will be more. But, it should stand as a reminder that the region, like its history and its language, is continually transforming. Mr. Levy’s Micronesia Handbook provides a nice accompaniment to witness this change for any traveler to the region. Review by Felicia Beardsley, Rapa Nui Journal, Vol 14 (2) June 2000.

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