In 2016, Gordon Peake answers a job advertisement for a role with the government of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, a collection of islands on the eastern fringe of Papua New Guinea looking to strike out as a country of its own.
In his day job he sees at first hand the challenges of trying to stand up new government systems.
Away from the office he travels with former rebels, follows an anthropologist’s ghost and visits landmarks from the region’s conflict. In 2019, he witnesses joy and euphoria as the people of Bougainville vote in a referendum on their future.
Out of these encounters emerges an unforgettable portrait of this potential nation-in-waiting.
Blending narrative history, travelogue and personal reminiscences, Unsung Land, Aspiring Nation is an engaging memoir as well as an insightful meditation on the realities of nation-making and international development.
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‘Heartfelt and honest. This book is an insightful read and a valuable addition to scholarship on Bougainville’s journey to peace.’
— Joseph Nobetau, former Chief Secretary to the Autonomous Bougainville Government
‘An excellent piece of engaged travel writing. With first-hand observation and curiosity, Gordon has produced a deeply informed, compelling and evocative account of war, survival and nation-building in what may become the world’s newest country.’
— Tom Bamforth, author of The Rising Tide: Among the Islands and Atolls of the Pacific Ocean
Unsung Land, Aspiring Nation is also available as an audiobook.