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Palagi Tafaovale

A Wanderer in the Pacific
By Bob Rankin

RRP $29.99

Reviewed by Margaret Snow

I came to know Bob Rankin and some of his history through trying to help him with his Veteran’s Pension claim, but found that I did not know even the tiniest fraction of what he had done and achieved in his life.

On reading this well written, and, at times, fascinating and entertaining, autobiographical account of his life from his boyhood in New Zealand, through his time in the New Zealand Navy at the end of WWII and later the Army and on to over 40 years of living and working in Samoa; it is obvious that he has never been a man to shirk from a challenge.

In the Army Bob became a Japanese Linguist and the tales of his exploits and adventures in Japan are on occasion heart rending, such as when he graphically describes the scenes of a post atom bomb Hiroshima, and the people trying to make a living in the city.

This is juxtaposed against his own attempts to make money on the Japanese black market, which became comical when Bob was himself sent out on anti-black market raids as the interpreter for the authorities.

The major part of the book covers the time when Bob lived in Samoa, arriving there as a young teacher recruited direct from New Zealand in 1950, and how he turned his hand to many diverse enterprises over the years, including journalism, screen printing and wine making.

We are introduced to his family and friends and those whose influence in Samoa has shaped that country from the period before independence to the current day.

This is a very readable book which should provide something of interest for a wide range of readers.



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