In a letter that R.L.S. wrote in 1889, ""the Pacific is a strange place; the nineteenth century only exists there in spots; all round, it is a no-man's land of the ages, a stir-about of epochs and races, barbarians and civilizations, virtues and crimes."" In this beautiful volume, Knight puts together letters of Stevenson, his wife, and his mother with intimate family photographs of several years' travels in the South Pacific, to which Stevenson went, ultimately, to die in Samoa in 1894. The first trip began as a health-seeking venture of a few months' duration, but soon became an attempt at a definitive illustrated history of the South Seas. (The period of the voyages--1888-1890--covers the rapid development of portable photography.) Knight, thus, presents here, interspersed with wondrous letters telling of cannibal princes and their princesses with beautifully tattooed legs, and a Hawaii far removed from the modern tourist emporium, a compendium of some 90 photographs. (Approximately that many were lost in a fire.) Stevenson never completed his projected ""Illustrated History,"" managing to write only a collection of essays, In the South Seas, before his death. But Knight gives us a glimpse of what we might have been bequeathed in this treasury of islands. Great escapism.