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Author - Ronald Wright

Ronald Wright (born 1948, London, United Kingdom) is a Canadian author who has written books of travel, history and fiction. His nonfiction includes the bestseller Stolen Continents, winner of the Gordon Montador Award and chosen as a book of the year by the Independent and the Sunday Times. His first novel, A Scientific Romance, won the 1997 David Higham Prize for Fiction and was chosen a book of the year by the Globe and Mail, the Sunday Times, and the New York Times.

Wright was selected to give the 2004 Massey Lectures. His contribution, A Short History of Progress, looks at the modern human predicament in light of the 10,000-year experiment with civilization. In it he concludes that human civilization, to survive, would need to become environmentally sustainable, with specific reference to global warming and climate change.

His next work What is America?: A Short History of the New World Order continues the thread begun in A Short History of Progress by examining what Wright calls "the Columbian Age" and consequently the nature and historical origins of modern American imperium.

His latest book The Gold Eaters, a novel set during the Spanish invasion of the Inca Empire in the 1520s-1540s, was published in 2015.

Ronald Wright is also a frequent contributor to the Times Literary Supplement, and has written and presented documentaries for radio and television on both sides of the Atlantic. He studied archaeology at Cambridge University and later at the University of Calgary, where he was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1996. He lives in British Columbia.

Acknowledgements page

On Fiji Islands–Acknowledgements page   Many people helped me during the research and writing of this book. Fiji’s inhabitants extended their remarkable courtesy and hospitality, and Alberta Culture gave generous financial support without which the journey might never have been made. Any list of individuals will be fraught with omissions, but I...

On Fiji Islands – Prologue and Chapter 1 — Nadi

Prologue In the Fiji Museum there is a curious wooden artifact with a carved handle and four sharp prongs. Beneath it is the short but eloquent inscription: The display also contains dishes used for serving the Wesleyan’s cooked flesh, and informs the reader that Mr. Baker was the only missionary eaten in Fiji, and that he passed away (if that’s the right...

On Fiji Islands – Nadi – Chapter 1.1

Chapter 1.1 – Nadi After breakfast Derek went out to buy a newspaper; I began writing up my journal. The flight from Vancouver had begun with a stew­ardess’s memorable phrase: You fly across the world’s emptiest hemisphere, keeping pace with the night. Five hours to Honolulu-nothing but blackness below; then the glare of an overlit American city, an...

On Fiji Islands – Nadi – Chapter 1.2

Chapter 1.2 – Nadi When the plane touched down the ethnobotanist awoke, cupped his ears in his hands, and began to complain in a fractious voice about the engine noise. The three of us looked, I suppose, like the monkeys on the log-Hear-No..Evil, See-No-Evil, Speak-No-Evil­-Gorky, tiny and hunched; Derek, rotund and bald, half hidden behind opaque glasses and the...

On Fiji Islands — Nadi — Chapter 1.3

Derek bought two bark cloth place mats from the bushy-haired Fijian saleswoman. We were then approached by her son, a boy of about fourteen: “Good morning, sirs. If you like I can show you the village.” “What do you charge?” Derek asked.  “Whatever you think is right.” We followed him into a small Fijian community that occupied...

On Fiji Islands — Nadi — Chapter 1.4

During the last century, missionaries, officials, and antiquarians collected many Fijian oral histories and legends while the traditions were still fresh. No early account mentioned a mass migration from across the sea, or the great canoe Kaunitoni. Most yavusa (kin groups or “tribes” claimed descent from a rock, cave, totemic animal, or mythic hero...

On Fiji Islands — Nadi — Chapter 1.5

Krishna’s taxi sped flamboyantly, in the manner of Third World taxis, towards Lautoka, the second city of Fiji. “I like the dry side,” Derek said, more than once, but for me this part of Viti Levu (Great Fiji, the main island) was a disappointment. I had imagined soaring hills and wanton vegetation; but the western or leeward side lies in a rain...

Lautoka City Bus - Classic Buses Ltd

On Fiji Islands — Nadi — Chapter 1.6

The narrow tracks of a sugar railway now ran beside the road. A train appeared with a vulgar blast on its electric horn: a boxy yellow engine pulling a dozen flat:-bed cars piled high and wide with blackened cane. The railway, the shiny Toyota and its Hindu icon, the women in saris with pots on their heads, the holy zebu cattle wandering insolently over fields and...

On Fiji Islands — Nadi — Chapter 1.7

It grew dark; the waiter who brought the beer became invisible except for his white shorts. After dusk some small creatures (birds?) began moving in fits and starts across the lawn. I got up to see what they were. They were frogs-strange frogs that did not jump but ran like sparrows. Derek had arranged for Krishna to return after dinner and take us to the Nadi...

On Fiji Islands — Nadi — Chapter 1.8

“G’day,” Jerry said. “Those spear chuckers looked like they meant business. Big chaps these Fijians. I reckon they were well fed in the old days. Did you hear about the cannibal who passed his brother in the jungle?” The master of ceremonies announced the last song. A Fijian woman got up in front of the microphone and gave a running...