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Arthur Grimble clearly cherished his years spent as a colonial official in the Gilbert and Ellis Islands He started his tenure as a young man with a new wife in 1914 and remained in the islands until 1933, although this book only relates his tale up to 1919 Grimble is honest about his naivete and inexperience and gives much credit to the native islanders who were both helpful and amused by his lack of knowledge His adventures dealing with storms, unusual food, native customs, Pacific flora and fauna, and bureaucratic bosses are the tales of a life quite unlike most in the west will ever experience It is an enjoyable read because Arthur Grimble enjoyed and valued the people who made up his protectorate The islands which make up modern Kiribati are so remote that most people in the world are unaware of their existence Even most Pacific Islanders will never visit these islands since they are so hard to reach even today I had never seen an article in the news about Kiribati until a few days ago see link below All islands in the world are threatened by global warming, and Kiribati is doing what it can to fight the inevitable encroachment of rising water, but soon most Kiribatis may have to abandon their islands and move to the largest island, Tarawa, whose water supply cannot handle the influx of a much larger population The islands and their issues have changed in myriads of ways in the century since Arthur Grimble served there I wonder what he would make of those changes.http www.bbc.com news world asia 35 My Dad told us that burping after a meal was considered polite in the Gilbert and Ellice Islands It is not in the UK He was a very gentle father who did not like having to tell us off, but when he did we remembered This is the book where he found that interesting little snippet of information.In 1913 Arthur Grimble went to the Gilbert and Ellice islands as a cadet in the colonial service a junior administrative officer , becoming a District Officer in 1916, based on Tawara and then Abemama and Beru He wrote about the islands and their people in an entertaining and self deprecating way He was interested in them and wanted to find out about their way of life, so he learnt their language and talked to them, including talking to older islanders about their traditions, he fished with them, befriended them and worked with them Much of this involvement was part of his necessary training to become an effective District Officer and he had to pass colonial office examinations in the language, law and customs of the colony, but he went further than the strict requirements of the job.He later returned to the islands as Resident Commissioner and issued revised laws which became the basis of the constitution when they became independent There is a sequel to this book The Gilbert Islands became Kiribati and the Ellice islands separated as Tuvalu in the 1970s. This is a great book, funny and very well written, by a British civil servant who lived in the Gilbert Islands now Kiribati for nineteen years, from 1914 to 1933 Written in 1952, it recounts events a century old, so it definitely is dated, but it s worth reading nonetheless If you want to understand about today s tragic situation in the Republic of Kiribati, consider reading this long article by Jeffrey Goldberg a longer review in Italian, please read the post on my blog I liked Arthur Grimble and his book He s humble and self deprecating in a way that feels true and unforced he s appropriately respectful of the culture he s portraying and he seems to have made every effort to assimilate into that culture as much as possible He was adopted by an elder on the island where he lived, taught to recite his new family s lineage in the oral tradition of their ancestors, and was permitted to be ritually tattooed as part of his initiation into I Kiribati society.Grimble has a deft touch when discussing cultural differences and traditions He often presents himself as an arrogant skeptic when confronted with traditions that he doesn t understand, and his skepticism is always proven unfounded, leaving him the butt of the joke and letting the readers draw their own conclusions.The story does drag occasionally, being less of a narrative than a collection of episodes and observations strung together in roughly chronological order, but it is worth reading for its many memorable moments and the window it provides into a little known culture, and could also provide a much needed template for how to write a respectful memoir of time spent in a foreign culture.This is a condensed and edited version of a longer review that I published on my blog, Around the World in 2000 Books. Neophyte Nabob s Narrations of Natives NatureBack in 1914 a young colonial officer went off with his wife on his first assignment to the Gilbert Islands in the central Pacific These islands and their inhabitants had been under British rule for only 22 years at the time But unlike the stereotype of a pukka sahib, the aloof colonial officer, Arthur Grimble developed a love of the islands and their people He writes about them with interest and sympathy, telling all kinds of tales against himself and the attitudes of the colonial system Due to distance and slowness of communication, he was often on his own after the first couple of years on Ocean Island Banaba , where Britain ran phosphate mines and which was apart from the other islands Transferred to other atolls, he lost houses in storms, dealt with copra, and courts He had a great sense of humor, so readers of A PATTERN OF ISLANDS will laugh at how he nearly blew up his boss by using a tad too much dynamite to create a cistern and some of the court scenes over which Grimble presided He argued with dogmatic French priests, ran across a few of the classic European island characters , and suffered from dysentery There are even ghost stories and ghastly tales about octopus hunting Grimble was very interested in Gilbertese mythology and looks upon their religious beliefs with interest Thanks to his open mind he writes of their behavior as diplomatic and reasonable Today, the nation of Kiribati is facing rising tides in the lee of global warming it is questionable if this interesting culture will even survive All the reason to read this very enjoyable, well written, humorous account of the Pacific of long ago. I clearly remember the story of octopus fishing with human bait from my English classes in school some 30 years ago and decided the pleasant memory was not in too much danger from revisiting the autobiography.How glad I am that I did reread it.This is an end of empire story that is in serious danger of giving colonialism a good name The protagonist, Authur Grimble, tells us of a lost time in the South Pacific and leaves me at least, craving for a time machine and a posting with the UK colonial office.Don t read this book if you wish to preserve a belief in pitiless colonial oppression. Grimble was an British govt administrator in Kiribati kir ee bas Gilbert Islands before and during WW2 His work is only matched or close to H E Maude A great non US Pacific read. *DOWNLOAD KINDLE ☃ A Pattern of Islands ☋ The Funny, Charming, And Self Deprecating Adventure Story Of A Young Man In The Pacific Living For Thirty Years In The Gilbert Ellis Islands, Grimble Was Ultimately Initiated And Tattooed According To Local Tradition, But Not Before He Was Severely Tested, As When He Was Used As Human Bait For A Giant Octopus Beyond The Hilarious And Frightening Adventure Stories, A Pattern Of Islands Is Also A True Testament To The Life Of These Pacific Islanders Grimble Collected Stories From The Last Generation Who Could Remember The Full Glory Of The Old Pagan Ways This Is Anthropology With Its Hair Down A special book about life in the Gilbert Ellis Islands now Kiribati in the early mid 1900 s The story is told by a British Authority, Arthur Grimble, whilst the nation was a British Protectorate Grimble s humour is hilarious He is constantly putting himself down for everyone else s amusement There was one story where he was new to the language and said during his first public address how great it is to meet everyone but how much better it is to say goodbye He sounds like an inspirational leader Naturally a stickler for the rules yet open minded to certain bending if the situation had good intentions It was important to him to include the local ways than to force British ways He earns the trust of the people and is adopted as one of them There are so many beautiful stories with vivid descriptions of each island atoll There s shipwrecks, shark attacks, ghost encounters, tribal feuds, evil curses, history, mythology and funny situations I felt like I learnt so much about Kiribati and now have a fair impression of daily life of that time as well as a visual on the lay of the land.I would recommend this to anyone who likes early colonialism stories or explorer adventures. Arthur Grimble was a British colonial administrator on various islands in the Pacific from 1914 to 1948 This memoir tells of his time in the Gilbert and Ellice Islands from 1914 to 1933 While colonial memoirs can be tedious, Grimble s is anything but Along with a sense of self deprecating humor and a gift for storytelling, Grimble has been reknowned as one of the few colonial administrators to develop a deep understanding and appreciation of the areas where he worked Grimble doesn t escape all of the cultural limitations of his time, but the memoir is fascinating and respectful It engaged me from the beginning with Grimble s thoughtful examination of his own position and his humorous ability to describe the various difficulties his youth and ignorance precipitate.