The best books on indigenous experiences of WW2 in the Pacific Islands

Lin Poyer Author Of The Typhoon of War: Micronesian Experiences of the Pacific War
By Lin Poyer

The Books I Picked & Why

Memories of War: Micronesians in the Pacific War

By Lin Poyer, Laurence Marshall Carucci, Suzanne Falgout

Memories of War: Micronesians in the Pacific War

Why this book?

In this follow-up to Typhoon Of War, we focus on Micronesians’ memories of World War II—the stories they tell, the songs they sing, and their recollections of those years of trauma and excitement. The book includes many personal stories and describes how Islanders think about the way years, and how they pass on those memories to the next generation. The book reveals much about how Islanders lived through bombing, forced labor, family separation, displacement, invasion, and other stresses of war. The poignant and evocative stories and songs showcase Micronesian cultural themes and verbal artistry.


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Nuclear Nativity: Rituals of Renewal and Empowerment in the Marshall Islands

By Laurence Marshall Carucci

Nuclear Nativity: Rituals of Renewal and Empowerment in the Marshall Islands

Why this book?

Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands experienced Japanese colonial rule, militarization in the build-up to the Pacific War, and invasion and conquest by American forces---followed by exile and relocation so their homeland could be used for nuclear testing. This book describes how they interpret and deal with this history through a three-month-long Christmas ritual that reflects traditional Marshallese culture as well as modern war. Carucci’s sensitive analysis helps us see how cultural rituals enable communities to deal with traumatic pasts, through symbolism, drama, artistic creativity, and humor—including the role of an exploding Christmas tree!


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Solomon Islanders in World War II: An Indigenous Perspective

By Anna Annie Kwai

Solomon Islanders in World War II: An Indigenous Perspective

Why this book?

Anna Annie Kwai is a Solomon Islander historian who brings together documentary historical sources with oral history and personal recollections to tell the story of the war in the Southwest Pacific from the point of view of Solomon Islanders themselves—including the work of the famous “coastwatchers,” the Battle of Guadalcanal, and the rescue of the crew of Lt. John F. Kennedy’s PT-109. An essential addition to the study of the Southwest Pacific war.


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Island Encounters: Black and White Memories of the Pacific War

By Lamont Lindstrom, Geoffrey M. White

Island Encounters: Black and White Memories of the Pacific War

Why this book?

Anyone interested in the War in the Pacific will find this collection of 175 photographs showing the variety of interactions of Islanders and foreign servicemen interesting. It goes beyond official military photos (though there are plenty of those) to include photos from Japanese sources and veterans’ personal photographs. The text gives insight into the conditions of war and how Islanders and foreign fighters perceived and dealt with each other. A beautifully produced book.


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Natives and Exotics: World War II and Environment in the Southern Pacific

By Judith A. Bennett

Natives and Exotics: World War II and Environment in the Southern Pacific

Why this book?

Bennett has produced an outstanding tour-de-force integrating the military history of the Central and Southwest Pacific with the new field of war and environment studies. Bennett goes beyond the immediate impact of combat to consider the military use of natural resources, the effect of bases on islands that never saw fighting, the movement of people, plants and diseases, and the politics of how Islander people and places were used in the war. From how foreign imaginations about the tropical environment affected military planning, to the conflict’s real long-term effects on lands and seas, this book adds essential depth to our view of the war years in this region.


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