A journey to the South Sea Islands by ""samoan"", a boat of Oriental design, powered by diesel engine -- travel and adventure before the war. The trip was a scientific expedition to gather specimens of fauna and flora; Gessler went along and his is a report on the endlessly varying, endlessly alike islands and atolls, the customs, languages, histories. Most of these islands are probably now involved in some way or another in the war, which makes this a background book with a certain timeliness. The peoples of the islands are intriguingly reported, their folklore and music and speech refreshingly dispersed through the text -- enough but not too much. The style just escapes meriting the term ""poetic""; his descriptions, while exotic, bring the places as close to civilized comprehension as possible.