SOCIAL SCIENCES
Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia
Harper. Mar. 2019. 384p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780062060877. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062060891. HIST
COPY ISBN
OrangeReviewStarThe islands that we now collectively refer to as Polynesia have led explorers such as Captain James Cook to ask the question: How could people from such distant places as Hawaii and New Zealand have similar cultural and physical attributes? Thompson (Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All) uses a chronological narrative to explore how both the Western world and the diverse groups of Polynesians themselves have sought to answer this question. Much of this book deals with the prejudices that Westerners hold toward cultures that solely have oral traditions. In this vein, the book also serves as a microcosm of how anthropological advancements have been made over the last 200 years. This progression is exemplified by the recording of oral histories and the advent of experimental archaeology that, in this case, was the building of traditional watercraft and voyages undertaken using Polynesian navigational techniques—passed down from generation to generation by memorization and experience—and the acceptance of different but still equal ways of understanding the world in which humans live and interact.
VERDICT Thompson accomplishes a lot in this work that blends history, anthropology, and geology; the smoothly flowing narrative makes for an exceptional read.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


RELATED 

TOP STORIES

LIBRARY EDUCATION

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

COMMUNITY FORM

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.