It’s actually a collection of newspaper articles written in the 1800s and 1900s. Wishart has searched them out from Papers Past(1), and written his commentary in between the articles.
It was a format I’m not used to, and the age of the articles made them a bit heavy-going, so Wishart’s summarising notes helped a lot. I still loved the way it came together as a simple, honest look at what happened in New Zealand and what New Zealanders used to be like. The chapter called “The Telephone Comes to NZ” was especially amusing.
The whole book comes from Wishart’s viewpoint of discussing history they way it happened, no matter what’s politically correct in our day. He includes things that I’d never heard of, like the tsunami in 1868, and the big Christchurch earthquake in 1888 (read the Oamaru Mail article here).
I liked being able to read a book about New Zealand history from a different perspective, and enjoy the fruits of Wishart’s labours chasing down the old newspaper stories.
…the most fascinating forgotten tales of our past, told through the eyes of the people who were there. (quote from back cover)
So if you are interested in hundred-year-old news stories, or in New Zealand history, or you just love to read Ian Wishart, this is a book for you!
P.S. This book review serves as an introduction to my blog, Rhoda’s Reviews
(1) Papers Past is an amazing resource of searchable historical newspapers which have been digitised by the National Library of New Zealand curators.