Explorers of the Pacific: European and American Discoveries in Polynesia
"Explorers of the Pacific" by the late Peter H. Buck (Te Rangi Hiroa) is a posthumous contribution that meets fully the exacting standards set in his previous writings by this distinguished student of Polynesia. The book is a byproduct of an earlier monograph, "An introduction to Polynesian anthropology. It was Dr. Buck's original intention to write a section on the European explorers of the Pacific for his annual report as director of the Bishop Museum, but he became so interested in the early voyagers and their reports on the people of the islands that he produced a book instead.
"Explorers of the Pacific" is an important anthropological document, for it describes the early contacts of Polynesians with Europeans and Americans, hence provides a picture of the setting in which the culture change of modern times had its origin. However, the book has an appeal that carries far beyond a specialized field. It merits the careful attention of everyone with an interest in the Pacific.
The manuscript of "Explorers of the Pacific" had been completed at the time of Dr. Buck's death, but it was still not ready for the printer. To Mrs. Eloise Christian, Editor of the Bishop Museum publications, goes the credit for bringing the manuscript to its final form and for seeing it through the press. In addition, various members of the Museum staff assisted Dr. Buck in the preparation of the book. Miss Margaret Titcomb checked the bibliographic material; Miss Marjorie A. Sterns assisted in the compilation and typing; Miss Amy Suehiro rechecked the literature for titles, dates, and spellings; and Mrs. Rita J. Ferguson retyped the edited manuscript.
A troublesome problem in historical work is the matter of variant spellings for proper and place names. Dr. Buck's death occurred before he was able to take up this problem, and in meeting it, Mrs. Christian has chosen a middle path. She modernized and simplified most of the names, but there seemed to be good reason for retaining the original spellings of others, particularly the Polynesian place names as given by their discoverers.
The illustrations are reproductions of old engravings published in the reports of the explorers. The Museum is indebted to Mr. Jean Charlot for generously contributing the cover design.