My decision to join twitter seems to have reaped some unexpectedly rapid and literal dividends. A short tweet dashed off in haste, largely because I’m one of those tedious people who takes far too much pleasure in cheap wordplay, and I now find myself the recipient of three hundred quid’s worth of books courtesy of Waterstones (That’s WATERSTONES, may as well make sure they get their money’s worth).
That ‘significant’ is entirely relative, as these island range from the famous (Iwo Jima, Easter Island, St Helena) to the infamous (Diego Garcia, Norfolk Island, Pitcairn) to the utterly obscure (Semisopochnoi, Tromelin, Southern Thule). Nonetheless, no matter how ignored or remote Schalansky finds something to say about each one which, given a large number of these ‘significant’ incidents stem from the direct effects of western colonialism, slowly accumulate to form a bitter-sweet discourse on humankind’s capacity for innovation, irrepressibility, blindness, and stupidity.
It’s only a slim volume, and, appropriately enough, sparsely populated in terms of text but there’s so much food for thought here. This is a small, wonderful, enlightening, depressing, and uplifting book. If I’d spent my own money on it I would have been delighted, but getting it for free is even better. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.