This is a second-hand copy of the book Journal of Ensign Best.
Condition: This is a used book in good condition. The dustjacket has shelfwear and has sun fading to the spine - see photos. The dust jacket has now been covered in a non-adhesive PVC cover for its own protection. This is simply folded in place and is easy to remove without damaging the jacket.
Publisher: R.E. Owen - Government printer Year: 1966 Format: Hardback with dustjacket Pages: 465 Condition: Used (Good)
Edited by Nancy M. Taylor
Ensign Best's personal record of his sojourn in Australia, Norfolk Island and New Zealand with entries ranging from pig hunting in the Wairarapa to vice-regal balls in Sydney. Best was a member of the 8th Regiment, and his journal was intended as a personal record for his family; a volume in the Turnbull Library Monographs.
1st. As a junior Army officer Ensign Abel Best crammed a great deal into what was a comparatively short military life, although he rose in rank through Lieutenant and Captain and shortly after leaving New Zealand for service in India he was killed in December 1845, in an early battle of the Sikh War --- after surviving a shipwreck on the Andaman Islands nearing the end of the voyage from NZ to India. At that time he held the rank of Captain, but had yet to reach the age of 30 years. However, much of his early Army life was as an Ensign. The Journal is thus the work of a young man contains his observations, while often astute and acute, provide graphic detail of his voyage out to Australia in a ship carrying convicts, leaving England in mid-1835 as part of the "escort" for these "passengers." The journal is divided into four parts: the Voyage Out, New South Wales, Norfolk Island and New Zealand. While the major content of this large book is based around the Best Journal it is excellently backgrounded throughout by Nancy Taylor's careful editing, and explanatory explanations, of his jottings in what was basically a private diary. This does not diminish his powers of observation and perceptions throughout all sections of the book. It is these which make it so valuable by adding to the on-the-spot records relating to the experiences, opinions and assessments of so many aspects of early settlement in NZ and Australia. Perhaps, because the 'Journal' was not published until the 1960s, and coming so much later than those of the earliest historians, his findings may not have been regarded as having equal status? It would be unfortunate if that was the case as Abel Best's record of those days has a freshness, freedom of thought and appeal that makes them as valid as those of any author of Australasian colonial history. It can be said that this fine book provides much that remains thought-provoking today.
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