The Wonder of the World

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HarperCollins, Oct 15, 2013 - Biography & Autobiography - 256 pages

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.

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User Review  - untraveller - www.librarything.com

Pretty close to excellent. My only wish would have been for a summarizing chart or graph of some kind to make future reference easier. The basics I was familiar with, but much of the specifics I was not. Well written as well. Read full review

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User Review  - froxgirl - www.librarything.com

The author, having met, married, and had a family with a Maori man she met while conducting academic research in New Zealand, continues and expands her own exploration of Polynesian origins and ... Read full review

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About the author (2013)

Christina Thompson is the editor of Harvard Review and the author of Come On Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All: A New Zealand Story, which was shortlisted for the Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-fiction and the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. Her essays and criticism have appeared in numerous publications, including Vogue, the American Scholar, the Journal of Pacific History, and three editions of Best Australian Essays. She is the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, including a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship, a Writer's Grant from the Australia Council, and a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar Award. A dual citizen of the US and Australia, she lives outside of Boston with her family.

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