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Among the Islands: Adventures in the Pacific

3.48  ·  Rating Details ·  155 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
Tim Flannery is one of the world's most influential scientists, credited with discovering more species than Darwin. In Among the Islands Flannery recounts a series of expeditions he made at the dawn of his career to the strange tropical islands of the South Pacific, a great arc stretching nearly 4,000 miles from the postcard perfection of Polynesia to some of the largest, ...more
Hardcover, 246 pages
Published November 6th 2012 by Atlantic Monthly Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Rating = 3.5 stars

This was perhaps a little less interesting than Throwim Way Leg because the focus here was more on zoology than anthropology. Not that I don't enjoy reading about rare bats and birds and rodents, but a girl needs some penis gourds and ancient blood feuds to spice things up.

Whatever's missing early in the book with regard to culture is made up for in the chapter about Fiji, with stories of cannibalism and other strange practices. Cannibalism was such an integral part of Fijian
Details Flannery's exploits as a zoologist in the Pacific Islands. He has many adventures searching for bats, rats and bandicoots that have only rarely been sighted. The tales he tells are interesting enough I suppose but I'm curious why they are being published now. These field studies were done in the 1980s and 90s and thus are 20 to 25 years old now. Are they still pertinent? Did Flannery see an easy and nice payer by dredging up his old field notes and making them into a book?
Sep 14, 2015 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: journeys
Mr. Flannery is one of those from the school of "hunt down one of everything and kill it" culture. I till wonder why they're called scientists, what happens when they catch the one and only left of anything and kill it? This kind of thinking is part of the problem behind the idea of Western Man. It isn't good enough just to be left as a miraculous adaptation of evolution with a life of its own to live, but all part of defining each and every bit of anything that comes to be on Planet Earth. That ...more
Jan 20, 2014 Ilya rated it it was ok
This is an account of expeditions by Australian biologists to South Pacific islands to the east of New Guinea to collect rare mammals in the 1980s and the 1990s. Since the islands are isolated, the mammals are mostly bats, which could be carried by the wind, and rats, which could float on pieces of vegetation from island to island. Because of the dearth of mammals, the human inhabitants of the islands were often traditionally cannibals: where else were they going to get red meat? The islanders h ...more
Jun 28, 2016 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel-the-world
This is certainly an important book for someone who is interested in the mammals of the South Pacific and the natural history of the area. Tim Flannery is a Zoologist from Australia, who looked for signs of species of bats and rats that exist in the Pacific Islands of Papua New Guinea, The Solomon Islands, Fiji and New Caledonia. Flannery is taking previous knowledge of these mammals, specimens from museums (mostly from the nineteenth century) and tried to update this knowledge by going back to ...more
Mar 15, 2016 Jason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve been looking forward to reading Tim Flannery’s The Weather Makers but Among the Islands: Adventures in the Pacific is my first book by the influential scientist. I thought it would be interesting to read since it’s an accounting of a series of expeditions he made at the beginning of his career. It was a particularly enjoyable read for me as it piggybacked on some other, recent reading and study I’ve done pertaining to the South Pacific. Flannery’s good sense of humor notwithstanding, some r ...more
Becky Johnson
Dec 12, 2012 Becky Johnson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In Among the Islands: Adventures in the Pacific, Flannery recounts nearly 25 years of adventures in the South Pacific, beginning as a young biologist in 1987. The book is organized geographically, with sections devoted to travels in Papua New Guinea, the Bismarck Isles, the Solomon Islands, Fiji and New Caledonia. Following in the footsteps of only a handful of biologists who have gone before him, Flannery travels to islands only accessible by ship, wades through piles of guano in search of new ...more
Oct 25, 2012 Laura rated it liked it
This really should have been a 5-star, but the writing was so odd and at times confusing that it quickly dropped from that level.

Flannery has, over the past two-three decades, studied mammals in many of the Pacific islands. By "mammals" he means rats and bats, some quite large and some quite small. That part is really fascinating, particularly when the different species are described (who knew that bats could have orange fur?). The problem comes when the descriptions are truncated, assuming that
Joanne  Clarke Gunter
I am so disappointed. See that picture of the delightful looking children in native adornment on the cover of this book? They have nothing to do with this book. The cover picture of this book should be one depicting the rare and not-so-rare rats and bats native to the many islands of the South Pacific. Now, I am as fond of unusual rats and bats as the next person, but this entire book is about them and the long ago field analysis that Tim Flannery undertook. This isn't even recent research. I wa ...more
Lee Belbin
Jun 30, 2016 Lee Belbin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful book if you enjoy travel in exotic places, landscapes or wildlife. Tim's collecting expeditions into the Melanesian islands around the 1980s capture a snapshot of the wildlife, the culture and the history of these islands. There are plenty of great stories included in the pages- my favourite was of him trying to ask in poor French for formaldehyde at a chemist shop in New Caledonia. There are plenty of laughs and a lot of ecology in this book.
Dec 11, 2012 Doug rated it liked it
I have to confess to being somewhat ambivalent when I finished Among the Islands. Adventurous travelogue or work of science? Neither one really and therein lies the rub. I'm certain that that many of the experiences that he had while roaming the islands of Melanesia during the 1980's must have been hair-raising, but he makes them sound mundane. I'm also certain that he is an extremely bright and highly competant scientist, but I thing he tried a little too hard to dumb-down the science for we la ...more
Helen Mccarthy
Apr 30, 2013 Helen Mccarthy rated it liked it
This is a very interesting book about the search for previously unidentified island species in tropical islands of the South Pacific.Island species are especially interesting because they develop and evolve unique traits that are not found in related species located else where, thus islands are a great laboratory for studying speciation. This book recounts many of Flannery's expeditions over about a 20 year period of research and and exploration, encompassing both scientific and adventurous aspe ...more
Jan 26, 2016 Ken rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have enjoyed other books by this author. But, I was disappointed in this one. It was written from memory and notes from many years ago. It was too short without enough detail. What was there was enjoyable. But, it was like I was getting teased. I wanted more.
Nov 14, 2012 Andrea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book narrates the author's work exploring and documenting the small mammals on remote islands near New Guinea. He combines travel narrative with scientific explanation in a clear, entertaining way. This book is pretty light on the scientific information, but is written with humor and the natural descriptions of truly unique flora and fauna really kept my interest. I would recommend if for people who like both travel and popular science and who enjoy a combination of the two. I can't oversta ...more
Rachel Holtzman
Mar 27, 2013 Rachel Holtzman rated it liked it
I chose to read this book because of its setting. I wanted to learn more about undiscovered species in the South Pacific, and particularly in PNG. I remember hearing that PNG has some of the last remaining untouched rain forests in the world. The book was good, but not as good as I thought it would be. I particularly liked the author's stories that had to do with cultural experiences, hiking through the bush, and the colonization period of the Pacific islands. I would have liked more anthropolog ...more
I think I would have enjoyed the book more if I had been better prepared for the fact that the book is so heavily focused on bats and rats. The edition I read did not mention that the focus of the book is the mammaology of the SW Pacific on the dusk jacket or in the library catalog. I am afraid that my disinterest in bats and rats meant that a great deal of this book was only skimmed. However - the book did pique my interest in a few of the islands the author visited so the book was far from a w ...more
Mar 12, 2015 JoAndra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyable read, fascinating discoveries and adventures as a wildlife biologist in the Pacific Islands.
Laura Hamilton
Cool concept but tedious prose
David Bales
Mar 09, 2013 David Bales rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Tim Flannery, of the Australian Museum in Sydney, is a world-famous biologist and author who details his natural history tour of the Pacific islands in this book, searching for new species and attempting to ascertain whether species described by earlier naturalists are still living. It is disappointing, however, that the events depicted in the book took place nearly a quarter of a century or longer, but Flannery is always a great read.
Feb 12, 2013 Francesca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Australian author of The Weather Makers returns with a travelogue/scientific expedition about his travels to Micronesia in search of rare flora and fauna. The hunt for species are embellished with historical back-story and context, complete with political intrigue, stalwart crew and cronies, cannibalistic rituals, and misguided missionaries...all in the name of conservation and celebration of the world's uniquely amazing wildlife.
Kathleen McRae
Apr 01, 2013 Kathleen McRae rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tim Flannery received a large grant to study the bats and rats on various islands of the Pacific.At the time he was a curator at an Australian museum and has since become an eminent environmentalist.Among the islands is a easy read with lots of interesting sidebars about the people of the various islands and also history and geographical info about various islands and their groupings in pacific chains. Very interesting!
John Benson
Jan 31, 2013 John Benson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book by Tim Flannery, an Australian mammologist, who tells of his visits to different Pacific islands near Papua New Guinea during the 1980s. He did surveys of the mammals on the these islands, most of which were bats and rats. The topic sounds grim, but he is a great storyteller and he brought out the cultures, landscapes, ecology and bats and rats of each island very well. An enjoyable read.
David Schau
Wcience writing with a light touch, Flannery, a zoologists, took me on a trip to the jungles of little-explored mountains and jungles of islands in the southwest Pacific in search of rare mammals. He makes chasing wombats and gathering bats in netting an adventure. Has written more than a dozen of science titles.
Tim Magor
Bats and rats of the pacific islands this is the alternate title. T Flannery is a good writer and the passages about the history, culture and geography of each island or group of Islands were the best parts. Had to persevere with this one unlike his TV shows with Roy! Which were a delight
Aug 18, 2013 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
A naturalist on fields trips to the south Pacific. I learned a lot about island ecology as well as being thoroughly entertained. Though written by a scientist, he keeps human interest alive and does not heap on the scientific jargon and terminology.
Oct 24, 2013 Judith rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I picked up the book I thought it would be more about native cultures in the South Pacific. It actually was about the expeditions and their hunts for rats and bats. Those are the only indigenous mammals on those islands.
Dec 09, 2013 Bruce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure, travel
An interesting account of a biologists surveys of many south Pacific islands. He has lots of insight into how evolution has shaped each islands flora and fauna in a distinctive way.
NC Wilson
Dec 07, 2015 NC Wilson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Terrific book. Flannery immerses you in the Pacific Islands, a world that now is beginning to vanish.
A great read for those into nature and the oceans.
Sep 08, 2014 Chicca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
wonderfully colourful account of biodiversity and culture in the melanesian south pacific. heavy focus on png and solomon islands. vivid anecdotal writing.
Apr 24, 2013 Amber rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm ready to grab my bag and head for the islands in search of some yet to be discovered species!

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Tim Flannery is one of Australia's leading thinkers and writers.

An internationally acclaimed scientist, explorer and conservationist, he has published more than 130 peer-reviewed scientific papers and many books. His books include the landmark works The Future Eaters and The Weather Makers, which has been translated into more than 20 languages and in 2006 won the NSW Premiers Literary Prizes for B
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