Friday, September 30, 2011

"Vikings Of The Pacific" By Peter Buck

I have a growing interest in anthropological monographs with grand titles. The first one of this genre I encountered was Bronisław Malinowski's "Argonauts Of The Western Pacific". Truly, an epic, epic title. Such titles beckon a reader into an inspiring world while the reader hopes dearly that such grand language and settings might not be complete fantasy.

Another one of these books I found by accident, though I am sure I would have found it at some point down the road, is "Vikings Of The Pacific" by Peter Buck. I found it in a bizarre area (the infamous clastrophobic floor after floor of small corridors of glass flooring which I--being 6'3"--must hunch constantly while cautiously navigating) of the Bizzell Library in Norman, Oklahoma called 'the decks'.

The book addresses the brave and brilliant Polynesian mariners who were equals only to the Vikings of the North Atlantic.

One of the best paragraphs I have ever read is in the intro, Peter Buck writes:

"I may be criticized for applying the term vikings to the Polynesian ancestors, but the term has come to mean bold, intrepid mariners and so is not the monopoly of the hardy Norsemen of the North Atlantic. To the Polynesians, the sunset symbolized death and the spirit land to which they returned, but the sunrise was the symbol of life, hope, and new lands that awaited discovery. I am hopeful that Vikings of the Sunrise will reach my kinsmen in the scattered isles of Polynesia and draw us together in the bond of the spirit. We have new problems before us, but we have a glorious heritage, for we come of the blood that conquered the Pacific with stone-age vessels that sailed ever toward the sunrise."

A great sample from a great book.


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