"It makes an enormous amount of sense... to see the lack of agriculture by Australian Aborigines as a fine-tuned adaptation to a unique set of environmental problems, rather than as a sign of 'primitiveness.'" -- The Future Eaters, p. 282
|My previous review is here:|
The Future Eaters
"so varied in detail, though so similar in general outline and character, that it will require the lapse of years, and the labours of many individuals, to detect and exhibit the links which form the chain of connection in the habits and history of tribes so remotely separated; and it will be long before any one can attempt to give to the world a complete and well-drawn outline of the whole." -- The Future Eaters, p. 271.
Explaining the extraordinary extent of the Aboriginals' coexistence with their natural environment is the central, eye-opening subject of Flannery's book, which also includes much more information. He covered the pre-human evolution of Australia. He documented the early era of humans in Australia, during which the newly arriving Aboriginals disrupted the prior status quo, and in fact drove a number of native species to extinction. Further, he provided a general history of the human settlement of the lands of the South Pacific. Finally, Flannery described the tragic destruction that occurred when the English took over the continent.
Some of the scientific basis for this book has probably changed since it was written in 1994. I'm sure that the much more accurate methods of gene sequencing that have been developed since then will have added much, and perhaps changed interpretations of natural and human history. The chapters about the way that present-day Australians cope with the special features of their environment have no doubt also been made somewhat obsolete by the drastic nature of climate change as we have experienced it since publication; also by the greater impact on Australia of our warming world. Despite these doubts about the continued accuracy of the book, I think it is most fascinating. I'm glad I have reread it, as I have often thought about it in the years since I first became acquainted with it.
I dedicate this blog post to my Australian blog friends, including Sherry, Francesca, Johanna, and all the others. I very much hope I can again visit Australia and see some of the landscapes and animals that are described in the book.
Review © 2021 mae sander.