Christina Thompson – Sea People

A blend of Jared Diamonds Guns, Germs, and Steel and Simon Winchesters 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 18th 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 300 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.

Author: Christina Thompson
Narrator: Susan Lyons
Duration: 11 hours 40 minutes
Released: 19 Dec 2003
Publisher: HarperAudio
Language: English

User Review:

sicken southern

The best part of the book for me is the 1980 voyage of the Hkle’a from Hawai’i to Tahiti. After weeks at sea, apprentice navigator Nainoa Thompson knows he’s close to his destination, but is confused and orders the canoe to accidentally sail back out to sea. Imagine, all that hard work preparing for the voyage, all that hard work sailing all that way, dashed by the sheer complexity of the situation. At this moment, master navigator Mau steps in, for the first time of this entire voyage. “Turn the canoe around”, he says. “One hour and you will find an island.” It was a fish in a bird’s beak that Mau saw and Nainoa missed that made the difference. And just like that, the awesome knowledge of Polynesian navigation at its best is on full display.

Sure, this book is for anyone interested in the history of Polynesia. But it is more than that. It is the history of humanity; our shared adventure. If you’re having doubts about picking up this book… turn your canoe around. Adventure and humanity await.

Oh, and yes, the narration is wonderful, with an accent that somehow lulls you to attention 🙂