In 1970, after serving nearly twenty years in Nigeria, John Smith returned to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office ready for a fresh assignment as a Commomwealth administrator. The ‘powers that be’ assured him that they would find him ‘an island in the autumn’ The posting turned out to be that of Financial Secretary of the Soloman islands, where he was to implement the new Constitution and develop the economy, an interesting and fulfilling job. It was some surprise therefore when, in 1973, he was recommended to the post of Governor of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, those tiny specks on the map of the vast Pacific Ocean south west of the Solomans. John Smith writes about his life as Governor, Colonial Administrator, Judge and Political Advisor to this ‘paradise on earth’ at a time when great changes were taking place within the Commonwealth. His was the responsibility to steer the colony towards independence; a task which he fulfilled with great acumen, humour and sagacity until his departure from the islands in 1978. An account which beautifully describes the intricacies of life on a Pacific Island during its progress towards Independence.
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