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Sea People

The Puzzle of Polynesia
Written by: Christina Thompson
Narrated by: Susan Lyons
Length: 11 hrs and 40 mins
5 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Publisher's Summary

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 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.

©2019 Christina Thompson (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Than
  • 2019-04-19

Long Lost History

Great book, lots of interesting information that will keep your attention throughout. One mistake I noticed though the author said at one point that Captain Cook died in 1778. Either misread by the reader, conflated with the Euro discovery year of Hawaii by the author, or just a simple typo mistake. It did make me a little more critical as I listened as a result. But overall a very good book about a large region that doesn't often get to have its pre-colonial history written about.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Trudy Owens
  • 2019-07-23

Delightful listen!

Wonderfully written, superbly researched. No tone of superiority, she seems to have read everything on the subject and organized it coherently. Her writing is very elegant and scholarly, so you might need a dictionary to understand it all, but the words are beautiful and exact. It seems the puzzle still isn't solved, but it has been proven that drifting from South America is actually a viable way to reach some islands. They've also shown that ancient navigational methods work even if Westerners can't understand them, and that by using these methods, travel between Hawai'i and Tahiti is possible. You will come to respect and admire these people.

The narration is ethereal. Thompson's long, erudite sentences roll off Lyions' tongue to lie in your lap like shining sea pebbles.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Phil
  • 2019-04-13

Eluminating

Our brothers and sisters from the Polynesian islands have a history and a way of thinking that us westerners have an appeal to learn from, of how it was to be before we sub-come to the shackle of the domination by our left brains emissary’s tyranny of matrix
Lovely and beautifully told story of mankind’s great adventure through life guided primarily by intuition and ingenuity, adventure, courage and aspirations
Thank you I thoroughly enjoyed
Anahu is now on my bucket list Cheers

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Ann H.
  • 2019-07-08

Entertaining and informative

A thoughtful and thorough review of the history of the Polynesian people. Especially intriguing is the story of the rediscovery of their ocean navigation skills and the resuming of long distance voyaging across the Pacific.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • James
  • 2019-05-25

Fascinating Story, Told with Grace & Sensitivity

My headline says it all so this is just the required 15 words. Add intelligence, insight and eloquence to my list of descriptors.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Lio Faamasino
  • 2019-08-15

From start to finish!!!

From the second the book started to the second it ended I was deep in it! Love this book and all it had to offer.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-06-12

Great Book

It was an easy and engaging listen but, I wish she read with more expression.