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Voyagers: The Settlement of the Pacific (The Landmark Library)

af Nicholas Thomas

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572463,873 (3.67)Ingen
"The islands of Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia stretch across thousands of miles of ocean and encompass a multitude of different peoples. Starting with Captain James Cook, the earliest European explorers to visit the Pacific were astounded and perplexed to find populations thriving thousands of miles from continents. Who were these people? From where did they come? And how were they able to reach islands dispersed over such vast tracts of ocean? In Voyagers, the distinguished anthropologist Nicholas Thomas charts the course of the seaborne migrations that populated the islands between Asia and the Americas from late prehistory onwards. Drawing on the latest research, including insights gained from genetics, linguistics, and archaeology, Thomas provides a dazzling account of these long-distance migrations, the sea-going technologies that enabled them, and the societies that they left in their wake"--… (mere)
  1. 10
    Easter Island, Earth Island af Paul G. Bahn (Bushwhacked)
    Bushwhacked: Prehistory in the Pacific Ocean.
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An award-winning scholar explores the sixty-thousand-year history of the Pacific islands in this dazzling, deeply researched account.

One of the Best Books of 2021 — Wall Street Journal

The islands of Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia stretch across a huge expanse of ocean and encompass a multitude of different peoples. Starting with Captain James Cook, the earliest European explorers to visit the Pacific were astounded and perplexed to find populations thriving thousands of miles from continents. Who were these people? From where did they come? And how were they able to reach islands dispersed over such vast tracts of ocean?
In Voyagers, the distinguished anthropologist Nicholas Thomas charts the course of the seaborne migrations that populated the islands between Asia and the Americas from late prehistory onward. Drawing on the latest research, including insights gained from genetics, linguistics, and archaeology, Thomas provides a dazzling account of these long-distance migrations, the seagoing technologies that enabled them, and the societies they left in their wake.
  Alhickey1 | Feb 3, 2024 |
This is a deeply disappointing book. Written by an academic with expertise in the field, it purports to tell the story of the peopling of the Pacific. It doesn't.
I have many issues with the writing.
First is the the irritating habit of hedging statements. So many sentences and statements start with a qualifiers: but; while: to the contrary; though; notwithstanding. The content would be so much more readable and compelling if the author could just make explicit, positive, statements.
Second is the wandering narrative. As an example, the author starts to tell the story of the first people in the New Guinea area - east of the Wallace line. There is some talk of "easy" crossings - where land remained in sight on both sides, and the more challenging crossings requiring better boats, more sailing/navigation skills, and a lot of confidence. So far, so good. But then the story peters out. The first Lapita people arrive in the area (the focus of the book) but I was never clear which parts of that movement was through unsettled areas, and which involved interaction with earlier arrivals. I wanted more about those interactions, the human story, but nada.
Then there is the issue of intentional sailing for new lands for settling. Island canoes carrying men and women, breeding stock of domestic animals, and seedlings of crops for the new lands. The author tells us how we can't apply 19th and 20th knowledge of boats and societies to explain motives and means of voyages 2,000 years ago - but then goes on to do just that! The motivational effect of the "mana" gained by the founders and so on.
I think the fundamental problem is getting a writer who has been schooled in academic writing to write for a general audience. Different techniques are needed. The author needs to be thinking of the audience. While academic papers will attract a feeding frenzy in the legendary shark pool of academia, the general public just want wants the story. It needs to be true, but it also needs to be logical, ordered, built up layer by layer. This book misses the mark.
Then there is the presentation in the book. Was there an editor? And, if so, did their hand shake as they accepted remuneration for this production?? There are a series of maps at the start of the book, each showing parts of the Pacific and the islands. There is zero attempt to link these static maps to the text. There needs to be some connection to the text - some highlighting of start and destination islands for trading and settlement mentioned in the text.
And photos. There is a motley collection of photos that do very little to enhance the text. Many seem little more than holiday snaps with vanishingly little to do with the book's content. Agghh!
It is so disappointing. There is huge potential for awe at the amazing feats of the people who settled the Pacific and built vibrant societies across such a massive area. But the awe has been smothered here. ( )
  mbmackay | Jul 28, 2021 |
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"The islands of Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia stretch across thousands of miles of ocean and encompass a multitude of different peoples. Starting with Captain James Cook, the earliest European explorers to visit the Pacific were astounded and perplexed to find populations thriving thousands of miles from continents. Who were these people? From where did they come? And how were they able to reach islands dispersed over such vast tracts of ocean? In Voyagers, the distinguished anthropologist Nicholas Thomas charts the course of the seaborne migrations that populated the islands between Asia and the Americas from late prehistory onwards. Drawing on the latest research, including insights gained from genetics, linguistics, and archaeology, Thomas provides a dazzling account of these long-distance migrations, the sea-going technologies that enabled them, and the societies that they left in their wake"--

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