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Patrick Vinton Kirch is Chancellor's Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of twelve books including A Shark Going Inland Is My Chief: The Island Civilization of Ancient Hawai'i and Anabulu: The Anthropology of History in the Kingdom of Hawaii.

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University of California, Berkeley



A great overview of the original Hawaiians up to the moment of contact with the rest of the world in the late 18th century.
The author gives a brief background the the arrival of the Polynesians in the Pacific, addresses their intentional navigation and settling of most habitable islands of the south Pacific, and moves on to the voyages that peopled Hawaii around 1000 AD, and the occasional return voyage over the next 200 years or so. From there he tells how life blossomed in Hawaii, and how society changed from the original kin based groupings to the god-kings of historical memory.
Kirch writes with the authority of archaeologist expert in the field, but delivers a readable and engaging book for the lay person. Just about perfect!
… (mere)
mbmackay | 1 anden anmeldelse | Apr 1, 2024 |
New Guinea is the second largest island in the world, but most of the islands making up Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia are far smaller, and the aggregate land area is tiny compared to the ocean they're scattered in.

Thousands of islands, some inhabited by people since the Palaeolithic, makes for a practically infinite array of detail, but Kirch keeps mostly to the helicopter view here, zooming down to individual sites mostly to illustrate wider patterns. While sometimes frustrating, this was undoubtedly necessary to keep this a book and not a library.

A point he keeps stressing is that while Polynesia is a linguistic, cultural and genetic unit, Micronesia and Melanesia are mere geographic labels, the last in particular being extremely diverse in all three respects, with New Guinea alone being home to a substantial fraction of the world's language families.

Another is the interaction between humans and their environment. On many islands, especially those where malaria was not present to keep population growth down, human impact radically altered the biota, with forests replaced by grasslands and many endemic species being wiped out. Most dramatically, around one fifth of all bird species in the world may have become extinct during the peopling of Oceania, incl most famously the giant moa of New Zealand. On the other hand, human societies operated within environmental constraints, with e.g. tiny atolls unable to sustain the populations necessary to support the stratified societies that could develop on larger islands, and the Maori of New Zealand's South Island reverting to a hunter-gatherer existence because the climate was too cold to support Polynesian-style agriculture.

I'm very happy with the book, which taught me a lot about a part of the world about which I knew little.
… (mere)
1 stem
AndreasJ | Jun 16, 2018 |
zenosbooks | 1 anden anmeldelse | Sep 9, 2012 |



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