A book review with an apt conclusion . . .

How Polynesia came to be inhabited was, for many years, a mystery: “The centuries have thrown up a number of theories. Heyerdahl, for example, was convinced that the early settlers were Incas from South America (a belief built almost exclusively on the presence in Polynesia of the sweet potato, a vegetable indigenous to the Americas). Others theorised that Polynesia was settled by the ancient Greeks or seafaring Egyptians or even a lost tribe of wandering Jews…Where Sea People really breaks new ground is in Thompson’s ability to unpick not just the evolving (and sometimes revolving) research findings, but the personalities and prejudices of the researchers themselves. Time and again, she shows how insights were missed and opportunities lost because of the questioners’ inability to look outside their own cultural prism. Generously, Thompson puts this down less to intellectual arrogance or pig-headedness (true though both are) and more to the inherent difficulty of seeing the world from another’s point of view.

© 2019 Micah Mattix