Finalist - 2003 Montana NZ Book Awards, Biography section. W H. Oliver, a central figure in New Zealand's intellectual landscape, reflects here on the decades of his own life, and the history that has shaped him. A warm portrait of his Cornish parents tells of immigration, rural work, the depression, and Labour activism. Reading and ideas were important to these 'people of the word', and their youngest son avidly absorbed the education offered, from rural schools to Oxford University. In time he became one of New Zealand's pre-eminent scholars, a man who was to make, as writer, teacher and editor, a particular contribution to New Zealand history. Three major publications are cornerstones in this life: The Story of New Zealand (1960), The Oxford History of New Zealand (editor, 1981) and The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography (first general editor, 1990). He was the author as well of James K. Baxter: A Portrait (1983), a history of the East Coast, and some volumes of poetry. Recent work on Treaty claims has led to writing on issues raised by the claims process. Looking for the Phoenix is a wide ranging account: ancestry and early childhood, the influences of feminism, friendship, marriage and family all connect to the more public story. Here Bill Oliver explores, contributes to, and challenges some of the formative ideas of his time. This is a poet writing about history, and an historian writing autobiography: perceptive, wry, and sometimes painfully honest.