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Fox Boy: The Story of an Abducted Child

Overview

A gripping narrative that sweeps the reader along as it seeks to uncover a mystery from the pages of New Zealand's troubled racial past.

While doing some preliminary research for a travel book, Peter Walker came across a photograph taken in the mid-nineteenth century that haunted him. A Maori boy, at age five or six, is dressed up as a proper English gentleman, one hand hidden in the pocket of his trousers, the other placed squarely on what looks like a bible. How did such a ...

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Overview

A gripping narrative that sweeps the reader along as it seeks to uncover a mystery from the pages of New Zealand's troubled racial past.

While doing some preliminary research for a travel book, Peter Walker came across a photograph taken in the mid-nineteenth century that haunted him. A Maori boy, at age five or six, is dressed up as a proper English gentleman, one hand hidden in the pocket of his trousers, the other placed squarely on what looks like a bible. How did such a young member of the native population of New Zealand wind up in such a place, why did he look so unhappy, and what happened next?

With picture in hand and numerous questions in mind, Peter set off on his quest to solve the riddle of Ngatau Omahuru (or little 'William Fox'). It was soon revealed that this little boy, about whom perhaps ten lines had ever been published in history books, was kidnapped during a battle and later adopted by the Prime Minister himself to be trained as lawyer. As Walker uncovers more and more information-following the boy's footsteps out of the forest and into the high society drawing rooms of Wellington and London-it becomes clear that little William Fox played a crucial role in New Zealand's violent interracial history.

As Walker travels in pursuit of the facts he finds himself on a personal journey as well, revisiting the scenes of his own childhood and quite unexpectedly coming across information that connects him personally to the historical material he finds, making The Fox Boy both travel writing and narrative history at their finest.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Absorbing and beautifully written." —Bookseller
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781582342191
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 1/1/2002
  • Edition description: 1ST US
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.74 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 1.29 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Walker is a New Zealander who has lived in London since 1986. He worked for seven years on the Independent and for three on the Independent on Sunday where he was Foreign Editor. He has also written for the Financial Times and Granta. He is currently writing a novel.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations viii
Acknowledgements ix
Map of New Zealand x
1 A cape named Kidnappers 1
2 The Beak of the Bird 29
3 A captive in the lens 49
4 Fingerprints on the trophy 65
5 'The house moves fast' 93
6 In the capital 99
7 Family life 121
8 A silent land 139
9 The years 167
10 Buller and the law 187
11 The fluff of the thistle 207
12 'Gone to the devil' 229
13 When a body meets a body 259
14 The next comet 285
Epilogue 323
Chronology 334
A Note on Sources 335
Glossary 339
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