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The Blue of Capricorn by Eugene Burdick

There are a few books I would list as required reading for anyone with an interest in the the North and South Pacific. The Blue of Capricorn by Eugene Burdick is one of them. Filled with tales, reminisces, and essays on everything from the geography, flora, fauna, stars, water and people of Oceania, it's a bit of a crash course in an era of the region.

The chapter entitled Jack Nash, describes a tense detail-oriented know-it-all whom the author meets while living in Honolulu. The Black and the White is an account of a Frenchman who moves to Polynesia to escape the confines of  European culture. In Polynesia, he finds a different kind of confinement.

The stories rival the works of Hemingway or Somerset Maugham. Some stories are fictionalized; some are not. The stories Burdick tells are so engaging and beautifully written it really doesn't matter. 

Eugene Burdick was an American political scientist, writer, and novelist. The Blue of Capricorn is a personal account of his time in the South Pacific before and after World War II. He co-authored The Ugly American and Fail Safe. Burdick died far too young in 1965 at the age of 46.

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