There are many ways to write a global history: one is to survey multiple locations across time spans and geographies with interconnections and themes. Another is to dive deeply into a particular place, unfolding the daily lives, experiences, and hopes of local communities and individuals, tying them into global networks of travel, trade, diplomacy, entertainment, political alliance, and commercial interest. Droessler pursues the latter in Coconut Colonialism, a thoughtful, gracefully written, and deeply committed history of Samoa.

The title is a bit of a feint—while the development of a copra economy in German Samoa is the heart of the narrative, this is far more than a chronicle of coconut plantation labor or agricultural politics. This is agricultural history in the broadest sense. Droessler ranges from the lore and culture of the coconut in Samoan society to the world built by planters and grove workers, through the multiple globe-spanning travels...

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