Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"The White Headhunter" by Nigel Randell

This amazing story begins in San Francisco in 1868. The main character is Jack Renton, a teenaged Scottish youth, who is shanghaied aboard a sailing vessel bound for the South Pacific. Although he eventually manages to escape, along with 3 other men in a leaky longboat, he is ultimately left alone, washed up on the shore of Malaita, in the Solomon Islands. This is also home to a tribe of headhunters.

Although, at first, he is treated like a prisoner, soon, the Chief of the island, Kabou, takes him under his wing, teaching him all of the things he will need to know in order to survive in such an alien environment. This includes cannibalism.

The author explores, along with this fascinating adventure, the history and culture of the people that inhabit the Solomon Islands area of the South Pacific. Carefully piecing together the oral histories of the islands, he is able to retrace Jack Renton's remarkable adventure, even following him on his journey home, where he would write a book about his experiences, as well as donate many of his artifacts to a museum. These artifacts include a necklace of 59 human teeth.

Although the reader may question the reasoning behind Jack Renton's writing such a memoir of his experiences, the very fact that he did so caused Nigel Randell to embark upon a 10 year quest in order to sort the truth from fiction in this carefully researched book.

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