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Back to the Future in the Caves of Kaua'i: A Scientist's Adventures in the Dark Hardcover – May 25, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (May 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300150946
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300150940
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,601,608 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Offers up the science of paleoecology with unaffected ease and provides the reader with concise but astute historical background.”—Mark Merlin, University of Hawaii at Manoa

(Mark Merlin)

About the Author

David A. Burney is the director of conservation at the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Kalaheo, Hawaii. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2006 to write this book on his work at Makauwahi Cave on Kaua'i. He currently lives in Kalaheo, Hawaii.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bob on April 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Burney tells the interesting story of how he and his wife Lida are attempting learn from the past in order to help turn the tide of extinction in Kaua'i. They make many complex concepts understandable and interesting. Those involved in use of native plants, ecology, restoration, and conservation will gain an understanding of what goes on in the trenches and behind the scenes in the scientific community. They point out the importance of dedicated voluteers to the global task. Their story will inspire people involved in these efforts around the world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mahina-Sheila on November 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
As a sustainability advocate, I was very interested in Dr. Burney's theory that mankind has a habit of decimating a great deal of the flora and fauna that it comes in contact with. In this respect, I compare Burney book to the writing of Jared Diamond in the book Collapse, where strong parallels between mankind's dietary and farming habits result in extinction of species and ruination of the land. Although the indigenous Hawaiian people did not extinct themselves, unlike the Rapa Nui Islanders or the Anasazi tribes, it is evident from Burney's research that a great number of species of bird, duck and owl existed in the Kauai coastal area along with endemic trees and plants that ceased to exist as the population of Hawaiians increased. This is not to say that the Hawaiian people were not good stewards of the land. Indeed, the Hawaiians had many admirable agricultural practices that we are trying to recreate in modern times in the taro fields of Hanalei and Makaweli River valley. The population so successfully flourished on Kauai, that -- in order to feed the increasing number of Hawaiian people -- they used the nearest available resources.
As a participant in the early digs at the sinkhole with Lida, Dave Burney,their children and Stors Olsen, I was privileged to have taken a glimpse of this rich and colorful history of the island I call home. I remain privileged to be friends with such great people as the Burneys and fellow members of Malama Mahaulepu, and I have watched in amazement over the years as the area around the sinkhole transformed from a dense tangle of scrub weeds, kiawe and Haole Koa, into a beautifully landscaped outdoor arboretum of endemic, indigenous and native Hawaiian plants and trees.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By bibliophile on February 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dr. David Burney weaves an incredible tale of Hawaiian natural history in this book, written in a popular style. It is a tale of former abundance and subsequent extinctions and change. The story is one of great loss, but, it is also a tale of discovery and hope. Dr. Burney and his wife, Lida , are restoring bits of the Kauai lowland habitat that we have remaining. The book is a detective novel and scientific treatment rolled into one. The future of the site is the real treasure and the work of the on-going restoration deserves a wider audience. This book will help in this effort.
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By Karen on January 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Burney's book talks at length about his and his wife's work in paleoecology in the caves of Kauai and his attempts to use this knowledge to restore native plants in an attempt to bring species back from the brink of extinction. I find it odd that people view it as controversial topic.

I knew very little about paleoecology and learned a great deal from reading his book. Peripherally, I learned a bit more about the history of Hawaii and native Hawaiian heritage.
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