Books about RMI
You can read reviews or buy the book by clicking on the title at the beginning of the text (in green) which takes you to the relevant page on the Amazon store.
By Ruth Douglas Currie*
For centuries, the Marshall Islands have been drawn into international politics, primarily because of their central location in Oceania. After World War II they came into the American sphere as part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. At the outset of the Cold War, the Marshalls were a site for nuclear tests and later for the US Army’s ballistic missile testing as part of President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative.
This book focuses on the islanders’ tenacious negotiations for independence and control of their land, accomplished as the Republic of the Marshall Islands in a Compact of Free Association with the U.S. The creation of American policy in the Pacific was a struggle between the US departments of the Interior and State, and the military’s goals for strategic national defense, as illustrated by the case of the Army’s base at Kwajalein Atoll.
*Ruth Douglas Currie is a professor emerita in the History Department, Appalachian State University. She served four years as command historian, U.S. Army Strategic Defense Command, and recently retired as a professor of history and political science at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina.
“Currie provides an excellent, archive-driven, micro-historical approach of a multilayered analytical critique of US foreign policy in the Pacific…. An excellent read, well written, closely studied, and expertly documented…essential.” — Choice
“A welcome addition to the sparse library of books about this region…meticulous…valuable…worth reading.” — The Marshall Islands Journal
“Dr. Currie captures the definitive history of the Marshallese nation’s special relationship with the U.S. which helped secure America’s interests in the Pacific, and the struggle to preserve their culture over a century of colonialism and Great Power domination.” — John Fairlamb, Office of Compact Negotiations, U.S. Department of State, 1999–2004.
Lost Art of Finding Our Way A Harvard science professor wants to further document traditional Marshallese navigation methods to help boost the islands’ indigenous culture. Marshall Islands wave piloting is one of the navigation techniques featured in Professor John Huth’s book ‘The Lost Art of Finding Our Way’.
Professor Huth told Radio New Zealand in March, 2017, that his research found its use of ocean swells to navigate was extremely accurate. He says he hopes further research will help revive Marshallese culture.
“I almost have in my mind that we want to publish a wave piloting manual or something like that, that we could give back to the Marshallese to allow them to reclaim their heritage. Because I think it’s a very rich heritage,” Professor Huth said.
Reviews on Amazon include this from Tim Ricks: “A sailor friend recommended this. I found it consistently surprising and enjoyable. My wife got tired of me telling her all the tidbits.”
Surviving Paradise: One Year on a Disappearing Island is set on Ujae Atoll. Just one month after his 21st birthday, Peter Rudiak-Gould moved to the remote atoll and spent the next year there, living among its 450 inhabitants and teaching English to its schoolchildren. Surviving Paradise is a thoughtful and laugh-out-loud hilarious documentation of Rudiak-Gould’s efforts to cope with daily life on Ujae as his idealistic expectations of a tropical paradise confront harsh reality. Most poignant are his observations of the noticeable effect of global warming on these tiny, low-lying islands and the threat rising water levels pose to their already precarious existence.
Here’s a handful of the glowing reviews found on Amazon:
“Utterly unexpected, vivid, [and] blessedly funny.”—Ernest Callenbach, author of bestseller Ecotopia and Publisher’s Lunch
“In Surviving Paradise, Peter Rudiak-Gould has pulled off the improbable: turning a year spent on a remote Pacific island the size of a shopping mall into a memorable, moving narrative.”—Tony Cohan, author of On Mexican
Operation Crossroads — Lest We Forget!: An Eyewitness Account, Bikini Atomic Bomb Tests 1946 by William L. McGee and Sandra V. McGee with a foreword by F. Lincoln Grahlfs Ph.D.
In July 1946, William L. McGee, USN, witnessed Operation Crossroads from the deck of the heavy cruiser USS Fall River (CA-131), Flagship for the Target Fleet of Admiral W. H. P. Blandy’s Joint Task Force One. McGee’s book was released in June, 2016, to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the postwar nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
“I wrote this book to help preserve a part of history few know about today,” says McGee. “If your time is limited, I recommend you read the Foreword written by Dr. F.Lincoln Grahlfs, a Crossroads participant and Vice Commander of the National Association of Atomic Veterans (NAAV). Also Chapter 11, ‘Later Lessons Learned,’with the research and findings of two of the nation’s leading authorities on the dangers of radiation inherent in nuclear weapons – Dr. Oscar Rosen, a Crossroads participant and an advocate for atomic veterans, and Jonathan M.Weisgall, the legal representative of the people of the Bikini Atoll since1975.”
According to the notes on amazon.com, the book is a quick read at 132 pages with 59 photographs and illustrations.
Idyllic No More: Pacific Island Climate, Corruption and Development Dilemmas by Giff Johnson, editor of the Marshall Islands Journal, is an excellent resource on the Pacific region today. In the book (published June, 2015), Giff asks “Can Pacific nations, endowed with islands of travel poster beauty, vibrant cultures, and centuries old ways of life based on sustainable practices, hurdle significant development and political challenges they face today — in addition to withstanding climate change and rising sea levels? In a series of essays about the looming climate threat, sustainable development and the region’s multi-billion dollar tuna industry, the U.S. nuclear test legacy in the Marshall Islands, and the impact of out-migration, ‘Idyllic No More’ addresses the often difficult problems and choices facing the Pacific islands today.
The Amazon site has a number of reviews, including this one from Jon D. Letman: “Giff Johnson provides deep insight based on his many years of living, traveling and writing in the Marshall Islands and the Pacific. This book is made up of a series of short articles that examine the many challenges that RMI (Republic of Marshall Islands) and other Pacific island nations face. If you know nothing about Micronesia and small island Pacific states, you’ll come away much richer for having read this. If you already know about this part of the world, you’ll understand it much better.”
Don’t Ever Whisper tells the powerful story of a woman who championed the cause of nuclear weapons test survivors when others were silent, and who later implemented unparalleled community health programs that gave hope to a generation of troubled youth. Don’t Ever Whisper is the stirring account of Marshall Islander Darlene Keju’s struggle to gain an American education and to use that education first to expose to the world a United States government cover up of its nuclear weapons testing program in her islands. The book was written by Darlene’s husband Giff Johnson, the editor of the weekly Marshall Islands Journal.
Included in the reviews on Amazon is this one from E.J. Probst: “I was privileged to know Darlene. She was a joyous being, who cared deeply about people. Her wonderful ideas to help young people to help themselves grow and appreciate themselves and their community are truly a practical model for all world communities to implement. Darlene was an amazing being for our times. I urge you to read “Don’t Ever Whisper” and become inspired in your own life and in your own community!”
Traditional Medicine of the Marshall Islands is an attempt to ensure that traditional knowledge is not lost and that ecosystems are protected for future generations. It is the result of a collaboration of nine expert Marshallese healers, members of clans who possess their own special medicines, and numerous others who are familiar with folk or general remedies. It describes more than 270 traditional medicinal treatments, all of which use the plants of the Marshall Islands.
Majuro: Essays from an Atoll is seven essays and accompanying photographs about the Marshall Islands, one of the undiscovered destinations for travelers looking for unique experiences in the Pacific. The stories look at contemporary life in the Marshall Islands: handicraft arts and culture; the revival of a traditional canoe culture; the growing use of local foods on restaurant menus; some of the best deep-sea sport fishing anywhere; the strength of local churches; private and affordable “get away islands;” and portraits of islanders.
Marshall Islands Legends and Stories is a lively collection of tales. Author Daniel A. Kelin II preserves the qualities of oral storytelling in fifty stories recorded from eighteen storytellers on eight islands and atolls. The book includes something for everyone: origin stories, tales of mejenkwaad and other demons, tricksters, disobedient children, wronged husbands, foolish suitors, and reunited families – all relaying the importance of traditional Marshallese values and customs. Profiles of the storytellers, a glossary, and a pronunciation guide enrich the collection.
For the Good of Mankind by Jack Niedenthal is a compelling account of the troubled history of the people of Bikini Atoll. Niedenthal’s skillful use of oral history enables the Bikinians to tell much of their own story, and his personal reflections about that history and his own involvement with the community enrich the account. This book is a welcome and useful contribution to Pacific Islands studies.
Pacific Ways: Government and Politics in the Pacific Islands examines the politics of each Pacific Island state and territory. It includes a chapter, updated in January 2016, on RMI by David Kupferman, who taught for many years at the College of the Marshall Islands. According to the review on Amazon, “this well-researched volume discusses historical background and colonial experience, constitutional framework, political institutions, political parties, elections and electoral systems, and problems and prospects. Pacific Island countries and territories included are the original seven member states—New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Nauru, and the Cook Islands—along with all the new member states and organizations. A wide-ranging political survey, this comprehensive and completely up to date reference will appeal to Pacific peoples and anyone with an interest in politics.”