Twenty-five years ago, a young curator of mammals from the Australian Museum in Sydney set out to research the fauna of the Pacific Islands. Starting with a survey of one of the most inaccessible islands in Melanesia—Woodlark, in the Trobriands Group—that young scientist found himself ghost-whispering, snake wrestling, Quadoi hunting and plunged waist-deep into a sludge of maggot-infested faeces in search of a small bat that turned out not to be earth-shatteringly interesting.
With accounts of discovering, naming and sometimes eating new mammal species; being thwarted or aided by local customs; and historic scientific expeditions, Tim Flannery takes us on an enthralling journey through some of the most diverse and spectacular environments on Earth.
Among the Islands is the third book in a loose trilogy of Flannery’s adventures, following on from the bestselling Throwim Way Leg (1998) and Country (2004).
Read this fantastic review by Simon Winchester for the Globe and Mail.
‘A rollicking adventure story that will entertain amateur zoologists young and old. By populating the narrative with interesting characters as well as fascinating creatures and spectacular environments, Flannery also keeps the story interesting for those without a deep interest in science.’
‘This is an entertaining and informative account of the author’s expeditions to research mammals of the Pacific Islands. Writing in a witty, anecdotal, confessional style, Tim Flannery takes us with him on his search for elusive critters in exotic places, and along the way we learn a lot about nature, humankind’s devastating arrogance, the politics of the Pacific and, most surprisingly, ourselves. Flannery is about as close as you can get to a living national treasure.’
‘Flannery is a gifted writer, able to bring the musty backrooms of museums to life. It will be a hardened reader who can finish the book and escape without a romantic appreciation for island life and the mysterious beauty of evolution.’
‘A ripping yarn.’
‘A rollicking adventure for young and old.’
‘There is an 18th or 19th century explorer inside Tim Flannery, trying to get out. And doing a damn fine job of it too in this rather ripping yarn, which combines a passion for science with a zeal for adventure…It’s all part of the rich tapestry of a lively book based on fairly vivid recollections, notebooks and Flannery’s scientific writings from the period. Like any decent colonial explorer Flannery (whom David Attenborough has compared to David Livingstone, no less) and his colleagues suffered privations and hardships along the way, although the arduous conditions were always rewarded with the wonders of the natural world, and few are better qualified to write about that.’
‘Among the Islands documents the ground-breaking work that resulted in the first book on the mammals of the south-west Pacific and allowed the International Union for the Conservation of Nature to rank their vulnerability to extinction. Flannery’s recollection is part adventure romp and part political history but above all a love letter to nature and science…In practice, science can be a slow, repetitive beast but Flannery’s dexterity as a storyteller means the pace rarely slackens…In an age when respect for science is diminishing, it is a reminder that knowledge is hard-earned.’
‘Tim Flannery is in the league of the all-time great explorers like Dr David Livingstone.’
‘One of the world’s greatest zoologists…who’s probably discovered more new species than Darwin. He’s a remarkable man.’