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The White Headhunter


A remarkable true-life Heart of Darkness


In 1868, Jack Renton, a teenage Scots sailor, was shanghaied in San Francisco. In 1876, he was rescued from captivity on the Pacific island of Malaita, home to a fearsome tribe of headhunters. After the rescue, in a sensational best-selling memoir, Renton recounted his eight-year adventure: how he jumped ship and drifted two thousand miles in an open whaleboat to the Solomon Islands, came ashore at Malaita, was stripped of his clothes, possessions and his very identity, but lived to serve the island's tribal chief Kabou eventually as his most trusted adviser. For all the authenticity and riveting detail, however, it turns out that Renton's chronicle glossed over key events that made him the man that Kabou said he loved, "as my first-born son."


Mining the oral history passed down in detail from generations of Malaitans, documentary filmmaker Nigel Randell has pieced together a more complete and grislier account of Renton's experience-as a man forced to assimilate in order to survive. While The White Headhunter is the story of a man transformed by an island, it is also the story of a man who transformed the island as he prepared it for the onslaught of Western civilization.



Reviews:


"Nigel Randell's extraordinary first book… is an utterly compelling story."

Daily Mail


"His telling of Renton's story is brilliantly done."

Sunday Times


"A grisly, fascinating and meticulously spun yarn."

Good Book Guide


"The author does give us some eye-popping details such as Jack's shanghai experience, the dangers of sea travel and the sacrifice of human victims on the island. I also enjoyed reading about John Harrison, the Yorkshire clockmaker who solved one of the greatest scientific problems of the 18th century with his invention of the chronometer."

Jena Henry (Reviewer)


"While the White Headhunter is the story of a man transformed by an island, it is also the story of a man who transformed the island as he prepared it for the onslaught of western civilization."

Mon Phill (Reviewer)


"This is a story of Jack Renton from the late 1800's who was shipwrecked in the Pacific and then rescued by headhunters. A very adventurous book."

Cherie Homan (Reviewer)


"A spine-tingling story of daring and survival… a joy to read."

Brenda Evans (Reviewer)


"Amazing… Mr. Randell managed to take his research and make it readable and I think any reader and lover of history books would enjoy it as much as I did. Renton was both tragic and heroic and he deserves a more well-known place in history."

Janet's Book Corner







Nigel Randell Buy