Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia

Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia Review

A blend of Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel and Simon Winchester’s Pacific, a thrilling intellectual detective story that looks deep into the past to uncover who first settled the islands of the remote Pacific, where they came from, how they got there, and how we know.

For more than a millennium, Polynesians have occupied the remotest islands in the Pacific Ocean, a vast triangle stretching from Hawaii to New Zealand to Easter Island. Until the arrival of European explorers they were the only people to have ever lived there. Both the most closely related and the most widely dispersed people in the world before the era of mass migration, Polynesians can trace their roots to a group of epic voyagers who ventured out into the unknown in one of the greatest adventures in human history.

How did the earliest Polynesians find and colonize these far-flung islands? How did a people without writing or metal tools conquer the largest ocean in the world? This conundrum, which came to be known as the Problem of Polynesian Origins, emerged in the eighteenth century as one of the great geographical mysteries of mankind.

For Christina Thompson, this mystery is personal: her Maori husband and their sons descend directly from these ancient navigators. In Sea People, Thompson explores the fascinating story of these ancestors, as well as those of the many sailors, linguists, archaeologists, folklorists, biologists, and geographers who have puzzled over this history for three hundred years. A masterful mix of history, geography, anthropology, and the science of navigation, Sea People combines the thrill of exploration with the drama of discovery in a vivid tour of one of the most captivating regions in the world.

Sea People includes an 8-page photo insert, illustrations throughout, and 2 endpaper maps.

Title:Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia
Edition Language:English

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    Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia Reviews

  • Tony

    It's been a traveling year for me in books. I intentionally went first to Trieste and stayed there, for a while, longer than I planned. Oddly, it was logical to go from there directly to Wales. And I ...

  • Donna Davis

    Christina Thompson is the author of Come On Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All, which I read and loved. I was thrilled when I saw that she was about to publish another book, and even more so when ...

  • Chrisl

    Was entertained while learning for about 100 pages. But after Captain Cook's explorations, when the whalers and missionaries arrived, I started losing interest. Did appreciate her words about the Lapi...

  • Peter Mcloughlin

    Starts with the European encounter with the peoples of Polynesia as they made early forays and later more systematic exploration and conquest of an Ocean that takes up nearly half globe with islands ...

  • Clare O'Beara

    This exploration of explorations of an exploring people is full of fascinations, friendships and frightening distances. Also birds - as guides, as food, as giants made extinct.The author tells us she ...

  • Katie/Doing Dewey

    Summary: A mostly entertaining look at how our theories about unrecorded history evolve, with a few slow bits."For more than a millennium, Polynesians have occupied the remotest islands in the Pacific...

  • Kathy

    This is a library loan, so I must mark as "read" having read through the book once, but it is a book so full of interesting history, theories and expeditions in addition to the recounting of people wh...

  • Jamie

    See my review below from the March issue of Baltimore Style. Humans have had wanderlust for as long as they’ve been in existence. Christina Thompson’sSea People : the Puzzle of Polynesia uses a va...

  • Seth Turner

    Fascinating ethnographic look into the migration puzzle of the Polynesian peoples. Clearly a passion project that starts to unpack the puzzle presented in the book. Highly recommend it for anthropolog...

  • Jessica Howard

    Very interesting!...