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CUP book

Island Kingdom: Tonga ancient and modern (Third edition)

20 November 2023

By Ian Campbell


(Temporarily out of print)

September 2015
321pp, Softback
230 x 152 mm
ISBN 978-1-927145-69-2

The island kingdom of Tonga, situated in the South Pacific about a third of the way between New Zealand and Hawai‘i, was probably the first part of Polynesia to be settled by humans, about 3,000 years ago. Periods of isolation alternated with periods of regular contact with neighbouring island groups while Tongan culture developed its distinctive variant of the Polynesian theme. Modern Tonga was moulded by dramatic changes in the nineteenth century during which the population converted to Christianity, and a formal state was established under a written constitution. As a result of benign British supervision, Tonga was the only Pacific archipelago not to be formally controlled by a European power. After two or three generations of tranquil consolidation, late in the twentieth century a vigorous and ambitious king forced his country into a trajectory of economic development and rapid social change, which eventually created a demand for political reform and democratisation. Tonga is less isolated, more prosperous and yet seemingly more troubled now than at any time in its history.

Island Kingdom Tonga ancient and modern (Third Edition)

First published in 1992, Island Kingdom is the only comprehensive treatment of its subject and is widely acknowledged as being the authoritative history of Tonga. This third edition is updated and revised in accordance with recent research, and new chapters bring the story up to the end of 2014.

Ian Campbell was born in Australia but spent some early years in Tonga. Educated in Australia at the Universities of New England and Adelaide, he was subsequently on the academic staff of the University of Canterbury for two decades, and was later Professor of History and Politics at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji. He is the author of numerous academic publications, as well as Worlds Apart (Canterbury University Press, 2011), a general history of the Pacific islands.

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