A short Book Review
By Fr. Abram Abdelmalek
Vanished Islands and Hidden Continents of the Pacific
by Patrick D. Nunn
This book is an interesting and informative one that explores the history and geography of the Pacific region. The book delves into the mythology and allure of the numerous islands and land masses that have either disappeared or remain hidden from sight in the vast Pacific Ocean.
Nunn, a geographer, and expert on Pacific islands, explores the geological processes, climate changes, and human activity that have shaped the Pacific region over the alleged millions of years. He discusses how ancient civilizations discovered and colonized these islands, and how their cultures and traditions have survived and evolved over time.
The book, which fills 328 pages, is decorated with beautiful illustrations, photographs, and maps that help visualize the existing islands and continents or those that have been lost or remain hidden.
I found Nunn's writing is hard to follow and disengaging in places. His attempt to weave scientific data, historical and mythological accounts, and personal anecdotes seemed overwhelming. It lacks a clear narrative structure, which can make it difficult to follow the author's arguments and ideas. The transitions between the different sections of the book need to be smoother and gradual.
In addition to the importance of enhancing the writing style to engage the readers, the repetitions of this phrase “pseudoscientists and the New Age writers” over and over, makes the book lose its objective and gives the impression that it is an apologetic faith book not a science one. Also, his continuous accusation of the western scientists in general and the European ones in particular, may put many readers off.
In my views, the book contains many details that could be eliminated, or reorganized in a fashion of easier flow of the text. Those too many details make it less accessible to readers who are not familiar with the Pacific region. The repetition of islands’ names and jumping from one to the other are very distracting and unnecessary.
Despite this, Nunn was able to connect the stories of the vanished islands and hidden continents to broader themes of environmental change, cultural adaptation, and human resilience. He argues that studying these lost lands can provide valuable insights into how humans can adapt to the challenges of a changing world.
The book is divided into three main parts, each focusing on a different aspect of the Pacific region. The first part explores the geological and environmental factors that have shaped the islands and continents of the Pacific, such.
as volcanic activity, tectonic movements, sea-level changes, and climate fluctuations. Nunn explains how these processes have led to the formation, disappearance, and reappearance of many islands and land masses throughout the region.
The second part of the book focuses on the cultural and historical significance of the lost islands and hidden continents. Nunn describes how various Pacific cultures have incorporated the idea of vanished lands into their mythology and folklore, and how these stories have helped to shape their identities and worldviews. He also discusses the challenges and opportunities presented by the discovery and colonization of new islands by European explorers and settlers.
The final part of the book examines the implications of the vanished islands and hidden continents for the future of the Pacific region and the world as a whole. Nunn argues that studying these lost lands can provide valuable insights into how humans can adapt to the challenges of climate change, sea-level rise, and environmental degradation. He also suggests that the stories and traditions associated with these islands and continents can help to inspire a deeper appreciation for the diversity and resilience of Pacific cultures and ecosystems.
The book focuses primarily on the stories and legends associated with the lost islands and hidden continents, rather than providing a more in-depth analysis of their historical or cultural significance. This approach took over, in many places, the need to cover the existing Pacific islands, the way they were formed and how their cultures were shaped. The book fails to provide enough context for the geology, stories, and traditions for them.
Though the author believes in deep geological times, he admits of the sudden appearance and disappearance of islands. These processes, according to him, may take just hours, days, or months, and at certain occasions they can happen in no longer than years. This means, that formation of islands, their erosion or subsidence, or wing/part slides do not require millions of years to form. The same thing applies to the colonization, vegetation, and animal prosperity on those islands.
In many places he hints to Christian beliefs and Biblical narratives as myth that helped shaping the current belief systems of the Pacific islanders. The ironic thing is, while he is trying to validate some of the oral traditions and myths of the islanders, he discredits the Bible narratives.
The book failed in sufficiently addressing the ongoing challenges faced by Pacific Islanders today, such as rising sea levels, forced migration, and cultural preservation.
Despite these critiques, "Vanished Islands and Hidden Continents of the Pacific" remains an interesting and valuable book that sheds light on one of the world's most fascinating and mysterious regions. It offers a good perspective on the history, geography, and culture of the Pacific.