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The Statues that Walked: Unraveling the Mystery of Easter Island Hardcover – June 21, 2011
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The authors present a believable case to counter what has become the accepted narrative about Easter Island. The book is engaging even as it rescues Rapanui culture from being reduced to a cautionary environmental tale.
Archaeologists Terry Hunt and Carl Lipo in "The Statues That Walked," a fascinating entry in the pop-science genre of Everything You Know Is Wrong.
-- The Wall Street Journal, Charles, C. Mann
Shattering the conventional wisdom, Hunt and Lipo's ironclad case for a radically different understanding of the story of this most mysterious place is scientific discovery at its very best.
-- The Guardian
Recent discoveries suggest that the inhabitants of Easter Island were actually devoted stewards of their island's natural resources. Archaeologists Terry Hunt and Carl Lipo describe how they solved the mystery of the society's collapse.
-- Scientific American
"Hunt and Lipo make a major contribution to global history. They decipher the tangled skeins of Easter Island’s history with cutting edge scholarship and vivid writing. Their meticulous research tells a tale not of ecological armageddon, as so commonly believed, but of brilliant human achievement under difficult, isolated circumstances. This important book revolutionizes our understanding of ancient Polynesia and is a must-buy for anyone visiting this extraordinary place." (Brian Fagan, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara and author of The Great Warming)
“The Statues that Walked is an important book. Finally, a fair and balanced account of the deeper human and environmental histories of Easter Island by people who not only know the records intimately but also helped produce them. In the midst of an ocean of sensationalist accounts of these histories, The Statues that Walked rights many wrongs.” (Donald K. Grayson, Professor, Department of Anthropology and Quaternary Research Center, University of Washington and author of The Great Basin: A Natural Prehistory)
"A great read and a genuinely exciting account of how the science of archaeology is done at its best—head and shoulders above the storytelling in Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel or Collapse, and this is saying a lot." (John Edward Terrell, Professor and Regenstein Curator of Pacific Anthropology, Field Museum of Natural History)
“A revolutionary perspective of the most intriguing society on earth. Hunt and Lipo unite old and new research findings in a coherent, surprising account of the real reason for the collapse of Easter Island’s populations – it was not greed and shortsightedness. And, incidentally, a compelling account of what purpose those statues served and how they were moved.” (Daniel Simberloff, Nancy Gore Hunger Professor of Environmental Studies, University of Tennessee)
“There is more plausible information about the island, its people, and its remarkable stone monuments between the covers of this book than in all the many volumes written before. This is a must-read for all those interested in scientific sleuthing at its best.” (David A. Burney, Director of Conservation, National Tropical Botanical Garden, and author of Back to the Future in the Caves of Kaua`i: A Scientist’s Adventures in the Dark.)
"A must read...Hunt and Lipo have harnessed the power of science to show the true history of Easter Island--which is more compelling and amazing than doomsday theorists have led us to believe.” (Patricia A. McAnany, Kenan Eminent Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
From the Author
Top Customer Reviews
As they note, they didn't start working on Rapa Nui to decipher much of anything about why the moai were made, how they were moved and erected, or to develop a completely new perspective on the cultural and ecological history of the place; they were conducting a field school and general survey along with some excavations, assuming that they'd be filling in a few details here and there on the prehistory of what is probably one of the most studied specks of land on earth. What seems to have kicked off the more intensive study: determining a much later date for initial occupation (AD 1200 as opposed to the previously accepted dates of AD 400). If the date of initial occupation was so far off the accepted chronology, what else was?
The structure of the book is directed at examining what is really known about various aspects of the island's pre-/history both from early literary accounts and from past archaeological work (both normal dirt archaeology and of the experimental sort) and then adding in results from their own work over the past few years.Read more ›
As an "archaeology of" kind of book, it is well written with just enough detail to support their arguments and conclusions, without getting too bogged down in cataloging all of the work that has been done on the island. I like how the book was structured: its organized into a series of easy steps that lead the reader through the author's path to knowledge as well as the multi-disciplinary evidence they combine to justify their conclusions. Unlike another reviewer, I didn't find the book "dry" at all: in fact I was surprised that I found it hard to put down ("I'll read just one more chapter" I would say to myself).
I think that this book also works well as a general "how science works" study: the authors use this book as an opportunity to share the process by which they arrived at this work, as a series of questions that when answered raise more questions and implications, and allow a gradual picture to emerge. This insight into the scientific process is interesting in its own right, and helps the reader understand the way that scientific knowledge is built brick by brick.
I think this book also work well as an example of the recent "historical-sociological-anthropological-ecological" genre most identified with "Guns, Germs, and Steel". I found "Statues" as entertaining as this, but more factual and less conjectural, albeit with a much smaller scope. It is refreshing to see anthropologists producing popular books about these issues, rather than leaving these topics to others.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I enjoyed this book. The information about Easter Island was refreshingly free of dogma. The stone garden/stone mulch information was very interesting indeed. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Karen L
Popularized books and articles about Easter Island tend to fall into one of two categories. The first is the "amazing mysteries" genre, about how the people of the island... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Steve Harrison
With the exception of Chapter 8, this is a really good summary of current thinking about Easter Island. Read morePublished 13 months ago by S. Johnston
A fascinating book that reads like a mystery with more clues emerging every chapter. With the background of the book, the Moais took on a special meaning when I saw them.Published 16 months ago by Sandpiper Helen
I have been interested in Rapa Nui (Easter Island) since I read Thor Heyerdahl's book Kon Tiki 50 years ago. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Land Wayland