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Notebooks from New Guinea: Reflections on life, nature, and science from the depths of the rainforest Paperback – 11 Aug 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; Reprint edition (11 Aug. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199609640
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199609642
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 3 x 13.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 710,562 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

Hugely entertaining and thought provoking in equal proportions. (E. Geoffrey Hancock, Glasgow Natural History Society)

About the Author

Vojtech Novotny is a tropical biologist. He is Professor of Ecology at the University of South Bohemia and the Head of the Department of Ecology and Conservation Biology at the Biology Center of the Czech Academy of Sciences in the Czech Republic. He is leading an international team of researchers studying relationships between plants and insects in tropical rainforests. This work has provided, among other results, the currently accepted estimate of the number of insects living on our planet. Novotny is directing the New Guinea Binatang Research Center, a research station in Papua New Guinea, recognized for its ecological research, which successfully unites western scientists and the tribal peoples of the New Guinea rainforests.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Vojtech Novotny produces some of the most remarkable research in ecology, with his papers appearing in Nature and other top journals. With this book he demonstrates a gift for human insight and humour that mark him as a polyglot of the rarest form.

Unlike typical memoirs of travels and excursions to far-flung regions, the author has spent decades living and working in New Guinea. He is a pioneer of the use of parataxonomists - local peoples trained to collect, sort and rear insects, thereby enabling the collection of enormous amounts of data, and simultaneously providing jobs and education in the most remote of villages. This means he has become immersed into local society in a way that no travelogue could manage, and which permits him to see the world through the eyes of his colleagues. This is done in the most sympathetic of fashions, differing from the distant and patronising accounts usually made of these 'stone-age' cultures.

The book seems primarily aimed towards fellow academics, though anyone with an interest in human nature will be amused by the parallels he draws between New Guinean tribal cultures and his own 'tribe', the Bohemian Czechs. I laughed out loud at various points - the efforts by Bible translators to convey simple concepts like 'the Lord is my shepherd' to forest peoples who keep no livestock and have never seen a sheep (nor can perceive its usefulness) are hilarious. Similarly, the previously unrecognised connection between cargo cults and the behaviour of apparently enlightened western intellectuals raised a wry smile. Another highlight comes when his research team decide to attack a 'rival' operation... there are many episodes worth recounting.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This gives us a marvellous insight of the culture clash between third world and first world countries, with lots in favour of new Guinea. My Dad worked in UNDP for 30 years and many of the problems mentioned in this book are very familiar.
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By Noel on 15 April 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a gem of a book. A tropical biologist who actually notices other people around him. This is such a refreshing read, knowledge imparted with wit and wisdom. A still remote part of the world where the indigenous people are still in close contact with their past in more ways than one. Mr Novotny observes not just the bugs in glowing detail but every aspect of the lives of the people who share their environment. He does this with wry humour. I bought the hardback publication which is a very well produced volume with beautiful illustrations.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent book that provides insight into PNG and that particular area, I worked in Madang Province for 2 years and can vouch for the voracity and insight the author provides
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A little more nature and a little less obsesive analysis of the (what is after all the universal) human condition, would have made this a more palatable book.
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