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.
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“Voyagers will deeply engage and delight new readers of Pacific histories, while scholars will marvel at the author’s elegant, concise chronicle. From Thomas’s own traveler’s tales, to masterful evocations of peoples, climes, Spanish guns, Tongan monarchs, coconut fiber, mythic stories, megafauna, island aristocracies, star compasses, and ancestral village homes, the reader bears witness to the creation of a complex and interconnected Oceanian world, framed by scholarly debates and the everyday lives of epic migration and master navigation.
Matt Matsuda, Rutgers University