Future Eaters: Ecological History of the Australasian Lands and People Paperback – 1 Oct 1998
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Customers who bought this item also bought
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
This is the story of how human beings have consumed the resources they need for their own future. It examines the original "future eaters" who were the first people to leave the Afro-Asian homeland and travel down the chain of islands to Australasia and became the Aboriginal, Maori and other Polynesian peoples. They changed the flora and fauna in ways that seem inconceivable. The book then continues on to discuss how Europeans have made an even greater impact and how today "future eating" is a universal occupation.
Customers also shopped for
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
In describing how humans have revised the face of the globe, Flannery begins in deep time. Tracing the breakup of Gondwanaland into what he deems Meganesia and Tasmantis - Australasia and the Pacific islands. For millions of years, life there evolved in unique ways. Isolated from the rest of the planet, Australia produced large marsupial mammals and giant bird species. Why did they disappear without apparent cause? After an examination of the likely candidates, climate being the most frequently cited, Flannery finds a different cause - humans. Fossils in Australia show that the large animals disappeared before the onset of the last glaciation. The extinctions, however, parallel the invasion of the continent by humans, people now known as the Aborigines. In one sense, the loss of the large animals forced the invaders to adapt a less predatory lifestyle. Mobility increased along with more selective hunting practices to maintain sustainable levels of supply. In studying these techniques, Flannery is able to move on to the subject of land management in today's world.
Although Australia's evolutionary path was unique, the lessons derived from studying events there may be applied globally, according to Flannery. Adaptation is an ongoing process, whether for "wildlife" or "civilized" humanity. Change forces that process. He aknowledges that in recent times change is more rapid and intrusive. We need to understand what impact those changes have and what, if any, adaptations are taking place. This book thus becomes and educational tool to help protect our own future. It is his recommendations for action that makes this book far more valuable than as simply a study of extinctions.
Flannery's many years of field studies granted him the essential background for this book. However, it isn't simply a dreary recounting of how we've ravaged the globe. His sense of beauty and love of life is vividly imparted in a deep personal sense. You join him in his travels in New Zealand, New Guinea and other Australasian lands. His fine descriptive powers and detailed knowledge combine to make this an excellent read. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
This excellent book should be read by anybody interested in the history of human impacts on the environment, and this is especially true of readers who live in the wider Australasian region.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
1. An Infinity Before Man: about the geological development of the islands of Meganesia (including mainly Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand North and South, New Caledonia), and their subsequent climatological, botanical, and zoological evolution.
2. The Arrival of the Futures Eaters: about the native peoples of the islands of Meganesia (Australians and Maori mainly), their arrival into their traditional lands, and the impact they had shaping those lands and their biota.
3. The Last Wave: Arrival of the Europeans: about the role of Europeans in colonizing Australia and shaping its ecology in an attempt to transform that land into something more familiar and convenient for them, but also about more recent understanding of the limits of the continent to support a growing population and the need to preserve its indigenous biota.
This book would be especially enjoyed by those interested in Australian aborigines and the longterm impact of man's livelihood on his environment.
I will pluck out his liver
That will show these men
What I mean when I speak of revenge.
Where is the man that could kill you?
Where is the hand that defiled you?
No! the gods
willed you to die,
Tore out your heart and lungs,
Splintered bones and spattered brains like vomit,
ribs picked clean
And blood oozing through the stones
Of the feast.
Let your foul cousins taste
The sweetness of their ancestress
In thy breast. Mairie-i-rangi
Will lie like a stone in their belly.
-Makere of the Ati-Awa
Tim Flannery's biogeochemical history of Australasia is so masterful that he is able to provide an ecological explanation for Makere's powerful tangi that dates to the beginning of the eighteenth century. New Zealand and Easter Island are two of the more extreme examples on record of Pacific islands peopled to their carrying capacity that suffered from deforestation, ate their way through the moa, and finally turned to endemic cannibalistic warfare in order to sate their desire for protein.
Mr. Flannery traces the path of Gondwana from where it sat astride the South Pole at a warmer time in our past, with large-eyed dwarf T-rex stalking through the weeks of darkness. As Gondwana broke up, Meganesia and Tasmantis formed, the land masses that respectively incorporated Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea, while New Zealand, Stewart Island, and New Caledonia constituted Tasmantis. 'The Future Eaters' is one of Flannery's earlier works and presages his brilliant 'The Eternal Frontier,' an ecological history of North America and its peoples. But Flannery is Australian and hence brings a far more personal perspective to 'Future Eaters.' He tells of the planet's poorest soil producing an efficiency-driven ecology of marsupials, and later firestick farming by humans. His chapters on the early colonization of Australia, the Dreamtime, build a good case for 70 000 years ago, and his theories on the Indonesian Archipelago and the origin of black skin somewhere around the Wallace Line and a subsequent back-colonization of Africa through Madagascar are as delightful as they are speculative, controversial, and well reasoned. The more we study human evolution, the more baroque, indeed cyberpunk, it gets. Mr. Flannery's analysis includes the El Nino weather pattern that has framed the region's climate for millions of years, and becomes something of a psycho-history when he discusses how Australians have viewed themselves and their place in the world over the decades.
Dr. Flannery is a world-renowned marsupial expert and has discovered and named several new species in Australia and New Guinea. 'Future Eaters' dates from 1994 and does not have the flawless writing style of Flannery's recent books, the problem may be more in the editing, as the words "concern" and "concerning" appear maddeningly about five times per page. Other than this minor quibble, Flannery's work is a stunning multi-disciplinary synthesis in the same league as Jared Diamond's stupendous 'Collapse.'
What "the Lady" with "the goods on" Tim Flannery had to say about the author is, frankly, irrelevant to the merits of the book and a nasty way of going about discrediting a talented writer. It says more about the woman than it does about Flannery. It is unfortunate that envy and backbiting is a feature of the intensly competitive academic world; that it gets passed on by readers who take vicious gossip at face value just shows how ideas are less important than the "dirt" one can spread.
Perhaps the previous reader can take the time to look up "ad hominem" and then consider the motives of the lady who claimed special privileged knowledge. The consider his own standards of judgment.
As for the book itself, the reviews already written give a good indication of what you get.