John Fitzherbert dies in Melbourne
And a happy new year….

A good book? You just found it here

Good_Book Reginald Thomson has written a book about books or, to be more precise, about his love of books.

Coincidentally Looking for a Good Book (Copyright, Brisbane, 2008) comes from the same publisher who brought us Gail Burke’s Meeting the Challenge.

While, unlike Challenge, this is not a book solely about PNG, it contains much that offers fresh insights into life in PNG between World War II and Independence. Which is not easy given the body of expatriate literature, published and unpublished, about the then Australian territory.

Reginald lived in PNG from 1949-73, beginning his career as a teacher and ending it as a distinguished public servant in the exacting post of Director of Child Welfare.

The central characteristic of Looking for a Good Book is the quality of the prose and of the extensive literary and life experience of the author. This, in short, is a book to read in phases – first for the savouring and then retained on the shelf for the occasional foray.

Reginald Thomson was born near Bendigo in Victoria in 1919. He left school at 13 to work for the YMCA and enlisted in the Australian Army in 1941. The book describes his Army training and his initial war service in New Guinea and at Balikpapan on Borneo.

After World War II, Reginald took a Diploma in Social Science, soon moving on to ASOPA. In the introduction to the book, his son Dr Mark Thomson writes: “The firsthand account of studying at ASOPA is a highlight of the memoir.” I agree. This is historic stuff and the cost of the book (just $20 including postage) is worth these reminiscences alone.

If you’re looking for a good book, Looking for a Good Book is for you. It is a well written and acutely recalled memoir. And underpinning everything is the author’s obsession with books. Made all the more poignant, as many of us who found ourselves in far flung parts of PNG would understand, by the largely unacknowledged part that books, precious books, played in our lives.

‘Looking for a Good Book’ by Reginald Thomson. Order your copy [hardcover, 152 pp, $20 including postage] by contacting Mark Thomson here. Mark will tell you about payment details.


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Mark Thomson

I’m pleased you like the book. I’ve just returned from a short visit to Sydney and opened your email this morning. I’ll forward your piece to the publisher and a copy to Dad. Thanks again for your encouragement.

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