Book Review: Captain Jack Radley and the Heyday of the Fleet

This new book is both a collection of stories and a comprehensive survey of the history and significance of mission boats in the growth and development of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific.

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Captain Jack Radley and the Heyday of the Fleet: The Story of Adventist Mission Boats in the South Seas
Rose Marie Radley

In 1944, Pacific Press—one of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s publishing houses in North America—wrote to Captain Jack Radley, expressing their interest in publishing a book of his missionary stories, particularly around his service as a medical boat captain in Papua New Guinea during World War II. Of course, his mission service was much longer than the war years, extending from 1917 to his retirement in 1955, which spans the heyday of the Adventist mission fleet. He always intended to write a book, but this was not something he had achieved before his death in 1968.

Some 74 years after that first request, Captain Jack Radley and the Heyday of the Fleet includes these stories, as well as the author’s memories of her experiences as a teenager sailing with her father around the islands of the Pacific on the Ambon and growing up as a missionary kid in old Rabaul. Assisted by careful research in the Church’s history in our region, this new book is also a comprehensive survey of the history and significance of mission boats in the growth and development of the Adventist Church in the South Pacific—from the earliest missionary efforts launched from California to the boats that are still in service today. As a valuable work of church history, Signs Publishing has been pleased to partner with Avondale Academic Press to publish this new book.

With the passing of time, people who can re-tell the stories of mission 74 years ago are becoming less common, which is why books like Captain Jack Radley and the Heyday of the Fleet are so important. And even more so, as we allow the service, sacrifice and sense of mission demonstrated by our previous generations to inspire our continuing and faithful mission in our communities, our region and our world today.

Captain Jack Radley and the Heyday of the Fleet is available from Adventist bookstores in Australia and New Zealand.