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The Eighth Continent:: Life, Death, and Discovery in the Lost World of Madagascar Paperback – June 26, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Peter Tyson is on-line producer of NOVA, the PBS science series.A science writer for seventeen years, he has written for the Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times, and other magazines and newspapers.He lives in Arlington, Massachusetts, with his wife and three children.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; First Perennial Edition edition (June 26, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380794659
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380794652
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,464,290 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Harry Eagar VINE VOICE on August 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
About 15 years ago, I had a conversation with a Malagasy soil scientist, who told me, in an even tone, that his countrymen were destroying their watershed by extending rice cultivation into the forests. I forget his exact words, but they were a version of a statement I have often quoted from Harry Hopkins: "People don't eat in the long run, they eat every day."

It sounded as if the island was being set up for a demographic collapse similar to the one that affected Ireland in the 19th century, and the concern about preserving an island watershed resonated as well, since I, too, live on an island with a watershed that is deteriorating. But I did not rush out to help the Malagasy save themselves from themselves, nor even make any effort to learn more about their situation. They are, after all, as Neville Chamberlain said about the Czechs, a distant people of whom we know nothing.

Besides, at that time Peter Tyson had not published his excellent "The Eighth Continent," which while formally a report about conservation studies by westerners in Madagascar is practically a very long encyclopedia article about the island.

A magazine writer with a taste for hiking, Tyson made a number of visits to field research projects in the `90s, each lasting at least long enough to do some observation on his own. These reports are woven deftly into reports from earlier travelers concerning the anthropology, political history, natural history, economic activity etc. of the island over the past couple of hundred years. There is some material about earlier times, though sketchy, as the Malagasy did not write until Christian missionaries reduced their language to paper less than 200 years ago.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
I have come away from this book with a strong desire to visit Madagascar and a good understanding of the country's wonders and challenges. In a very entertaining style recounting his travels and sharing tales of the island's lore, Peter Tyson gives us an overview of both the Malagasy people and fauna ( and somtimes flora ) and how they relate in light of its conservation issues. He also outlines the limited knowledge that exists as to how this unique island has come to be so different from anywhere else on Earth, opening the scope for unlimited wonder and whetting a thirst to find out more. A great starting point for an interest in Madagascar and a thoroughly enjoyable read.
I would recommend reading Mike Eveleigh's, Maverick in Madagascar, after this.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Melanie D. Typaldos on June 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
I hate to disagree with the majority of the reviews, but I only found this book "okay." It's worth reading but it's not to rave about. The best parts deal with the Malagsy people, culture and history. The descriptions of the animals, plants, and ecosystems are weak. There are few photos and those are not highly informative or high quality. I recommend sections of David Quamman's book, Song of the Dodo, which has a much stronger biological bent to it.
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