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Noteworthy Books Received by the Journal of the North Atlantic

Journal of the North Atlantic, Volume 3 (2010): 45–47

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45 Noteworthy Books Received by the Journal of the North Atlantic, Vol. 3, 2010 Questioning Collapse: Human Resilience, Ecological Vulnerability, and the Aftermath of Empire. Patricia A. McAnany and Norman Yoffee (Editors). 2009. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. 390 pp. USD 29.99, softcover. ISBN 9780521733663. Questioning Collapse challenges those scholars and popular writers who advance the thesis that societies—past and present—collapse because of behavior that destroyed their environments or because of overpopulation. In a series of highly accessible and closely argued essays, a team of internationally recognized scholars bring history and context to bear in their radically different analyses of iconic events, such as the deforestation of Easter Island, the cessation of the Norse colony in Greenland, the faltering of nineteenth-century China, the migration of ancestral peoples away from Chaco Canyon in the American southwest, the crisis and resilience of Lowland Maya kingship, and other societies that purportedly “collapsed”. Collectively, these essays demonstrate that resilience in the face of societal crises, rather than collapse, is the leitmotif of the human story from the earliest civilizations to the present. Scrutinizing the notion that Euro-American colonial triumphs were an accident of geography, Questioning Collapse also critically examines the complex historical relationship between race and political labels of societal “success” and “failure”. Adapting to Climate Change: Thresholds, Values, Governance. W. Neil Adger, Irene Lorenzoni, and Karen L. O’Brien (Editors). 2008. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. 532 pp. USD 45, softcover. ISBN 97805211825153. Adapting to climate change is a critical problem facing humanity. This involves reconsidering our lifestyles, and is linked to our actions as individuals, societies, and governments. This book presents the latest science and social science research on whether the world can adapt to climate change. Written by experts, both academics and practitioners, it examines the risks to ecosystems, demonstrating how values, culture and the constraining forces of governance act as barriers to action. As a state-of-the-art review of science and a holistic assessment of adaptation options, it is essential reading for those concerned with responses to climate change, especially researchers, policymakers, practitioners, and graduate students. Signifi cant features include historical, contemporary, and future insights into adaptation to climate change; coverage of adaptation issues from different perspectives: climate science, hydrology, engineering, ecology, economics, human geography, anthropology, and political science; and contributions from leading researchers and practitioners from around the world. Hofsta›ir: Excavations of a Viking Age Feasting Hall in North-Eastern Iceland. Gavin Lucas (Editor). 2009. Institute of Archaeology, Reykjavík, Iceland. 464 pp. USD 48 (plus shipping), softcover. ISBN 9789979994602. The long-awaited publication of the Institute’s excavations of the Viking settlement of Hofstaðir in Mývatnssveit is now available. An international group of 45 archaeologists provide an in-depth and detailed analysis and interpretation of the 1992-2002 investigations of this classic site. This comprehensive monograph begins with a introduction detailing the background to the project and the research aims and methods. Subsequent chapters provide an indepth presentation of the fi ndings organized as: the paleoenvironment of the site during the Viking Age and the Early Medieval Period, the structural sequence, the archaeofauna, the artefactual material, the plant remains, the organization and management of the land, and the settlement period. At almost 500 pages with over 200 illustrations, the volume represents a landmark in Icelandic archaeology and will set a new standard for excavation monographs. The monograph is in English with an extended Icelandic summary. The Archaeology of Medieval Europe. Volume 1: Eighth to Twelfth Centuries AD. James Graham- Campbell and Magdalena Valor (Editors). 2008. Aarhus University Press, Aarhus, Denmark. 479 pp. EUR 60.95 (includes 25% VAT), softcover. ISBN 9788779342903. The two volumes of The Archaeology of Medieval Europe together comprise the fi rst complete account of Medeival archaeology across the Continent. Archaeologists from academic institutions in fi fteen countries have collaborated to produce the fi rst of these two books comprising fi fteen thematic chapters. The book starts out with an overview of current research and teaching approaches, frameworks, and methodoligies. Subsequent chapters focus on peoples and environments, rural settlement, urban settlement, housing culture, food, technology, craft, and industry, material culture and daily life, travel and transport, trade and exchange, fortifi cations, the display of secular power, religions, religious buildings, and life, death, and memory. Every chapter features a number of “box-texts” by specialist contributors highlighting sites or themes of particular importance. The text is comprehensively illustrated with color and b/w images, line drawings, and maps. The Viking World. Stefan Brink and Neil Price (Editors). 2008. Taylor and Francis Group Boca Raton, FL, USA. 717 pp. USD 240, hardcover. ISBN 9780415333153. Filling a gap in the literature for an academically oriented volume on the Viking period, 46 Journal of the North Atlantic Volume 3 core anthropological questions. Contributors explore a wide range of themes, such as our understanding of those processes which transform the environment, and the evolution of the cultural mind. This text addresses anthropological issues of general interest, from biology to refl exivity and helps to develop the productive relationship between ethnobiology and anthropology. The Munsee Indians: A History. Robert S. Grumet. 2009. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK, USA. 464 pp. USD 45, hardcover. ISBN 9780806140629. The Indian sale of Manhattan is one of the world’s most cherished legends. Few people know that the Indians who made the fabled sale were Munsees whose ancestral homeland lay between the lower Hudson and upper Delaware river valleys. The story of the Munsee people has long lain unnoticed in broader histories of the Delaware Nation. Now, The Munsee Indians deftly interweaves a mass of archaeological, anthropological, and archival source material to resurrect the lost history of this forgotten people, from their earliest contacts with Europeans to their fi nal expulsion just before the American Revolution. Anthropologist Robert S. Grumet rescues from obscurity Mattano, Tackapousha, Mamanuchqua, and other Munsee sachems whose infl uence on Dutch and British settlers helped shape the course of early American history in the mid-Atlantic heartland. He looks past the legendary sale of Manhattan to show for the fi rst time how Munsee leaders forestalled land-hungry colonists by selling small tracts whose vaguely worded and bounded titles kept courts busy—and settlers out—for more than 150 years. Ravaged by disease, war, and alcohol, the Munsees fi nally emigrated to reservations in Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Ontario, where most of their descendants still live today. Coinciding with the four hundredth anniversary of Hudson’s voyage to the river that bears his name, this book shows how Indians and settlers struggled, in land deals and other transactions, to reconcile cultural ideals with political realities. The result is the most authoritative treatment of the Munsee experience—one that restores this people to their place in history. Human Impacts on Ancient Marine Systems: A Global Perspective. Torben C. Rick and Jon M. Erlandson (Editors). 2008. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, USA. 336 pp. USD 65, hardcover. ISBN 9780520253438. Archaeological data now show that relatively intense human adaptations to coastal environments developed much earlier than once believed—more than 125,000 years ago. With our oceans and marine fi sheries currently in a state of crisis, coastal archaeological sites contain a wealth of data that can shed light on the history of human this unique book is a one-stop authoritative introduction to all the latest research in the fi eld. Bringing together today’s leading scholars, both established seniors and younger, cutting-edge academics, Stefan Brink and Neil Price have constructed the fi rst single work to gather innovative research from a spectrum of disciplines (including archaeology, history, philology, comparative religion, numismatics and cultural geography) to create the most comprehensive Viking Age book of its kind ever attempted. Consisting of longer articles providing overviews of important themes, supported by shorter papers focusing on material of particular interest, this comprehensive volume covers such wide-ranging topics as social institutions, spatial issues, the Viking Age economy, warfare, beliefs, language, voyages, and links with medieval and Christian Europe. This original work, specifi cally oriented towards a university audience and the educated public, will have a self-evident place as an undergraduate course book and will be a standard work of reference for all those in the fi eld. Contemporary Archaeology in Theory: The New Pragmatism, Second Edition. Robert W. Preucel and Stephen A. Mrozowski (Editors). 2010. Wiley- Blackwell, Hoboken, NJ, USA. 664 pp. USD 54.95, softcover. ISBN 9781405158534. The second edition of Contemporary Archaeology in Theory: The New Pragmatism, has been thoroughly updated and revised, and features top scholars who redefi ne the theoretical and political agendas of the fi eld, and challenge the usual distinctions between time, space, processes, and people. This text defi nes the relevance of archaeology and the social sciences more generally to the modern world, challenges the traditional boundaries between prehistoric and historical archaeologies, examines the infl uence of American pragmatism on archaeology, and discusses how archaeology articulates such contemporary topics and issues as landscape and natures; agency, meaning and practice; sexuality, embodiment and personhood; race, class, and ethnicity; materiality, memory, and historical silence; colonialism, nationalism, and empire; heritage, patrimony, and social justice; media, museums, and publics. This second edition offers 32 new chapters by leading archaeologists and cultural anthropologists. Ethnobiology and the Science of Humankind. Roy Ellen (Editor). 2006. Blackwell Publishing, Hoboken, NJ, USA. 176 pp. USD 39.95, softcover. ISBN 9781405145893. Part of The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute Special Issue Book Series, this landmark volume assesses the contribution of recent work in ethnobiology to anthropological thought. It considers the ways in which the subject matter and methodologies of ethnobiological research address 2010 Noteworthy Books 47 teenth- and eighteenth-century Atlantic world. Randall vividly portrays this French Protestant diaspora through the lives of three fi gures: Gabriel Bernon, who led a Huguenot exodus to Massachusetts and moved among the commercial elite; Ezéchiel Carré, a Camisard who infl uenced Cotton Mather’s theology; and Elie Neau, a Camisard-infl uenced writer and escaped galley slave who established North America’s fi rst school for blacks. Like other French Protestants, these men were adaptable in their religious views, a quality Randall points out as quintessentially American. In anthropological terms they acted as code shifters who manipulated multiple cultures. While this malleability ensured that French Protestant culture would not survive in externally recognizable terms in the Americas, Randall shows that the culture’s impact was nonetheless considerable. Passamaquody Ceremonial Songs: Aesthetics and Survival. Ann Morrison Spinney. 2009. University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, MA, USA. 272 pp. USD 65, hardcover. ISBN 9781558497184. Based on extensive research across several disciplines, this book examines the songs and dances involved in public ceremonies of the Wabanaki Confederacy, a coalition of fi ve Algonquian First Nations that fi gured importantly in the political history of New England and the Maritimes from the seventeenth century on. Ethnomusicologist Ann Morrison Spinney analyzes these ceremonial performances as they have been maintained in one of those nations, the Passamaquoddy community of Maine. She compares historical accounts with forms that have persisted to the present, showing how versions of the same songs, dances, and ritual speeches have continued to play a vital role in Passamaquoddy culture over time. A particular focus of the study is the annual Sipayik Indian Day, a public presentation of the dances associated with the protocols of the Wabanaki Confederacy. Spinney interprets these practices using melodic analysis and cultural contextual frameworks, drawing on a variety of sources, including written documents, sound and video recordings, interviews with singers, dancers, and other cultural practitioners, and her own fi eldwork observations. Her research shows that Passamaquoddy techniques of song composition and performance parallel both the structure of the Passamaquoddy language and the political organizations that these ceremonies support. exploitation of marine ecosystems. In eleven case studies from the Americas, Pacifi c Islands, North Sea, Caribbean, Europe, and Africa, leading researchers working in coastal areas around the world cover diverse marine ecosystems, reaching into deep history to discover how humans interacted with and impacted these aquatic environments and shedding new light on our understanding of contemporary environmental problems. Maps, Myths, and Men: The Story of the Vínland Map. Kristen A. Seaver. 2004. Stanford University Press, Palo Alto, CA, USA. 480 pp. USD 27.95, softcover. ISBN 9780804749633. The “Vínland Map” fi rst surfaced on the antiquarian market in 1957 and the map’s authenticity has been hotly debated ever since—in controversies ranging from the anomalous composition of the ink and the map’s lack of provenance to a plethora of historical and cartographical riddles. Maps, Myths, and Men is the fi rst work to address the full range of this debate. Focusing closely on what the map in fact shows, the book contains a critique of the 1965 work The Vinland Map and the Tartar Relation; scrutinizes the marketing strategies used in 1957; and covers many aspects of the map that demonstrate it is a modern fake, such as literary evidence and several scientifi c ink analyses performed between 1967 and 2002. The author explains a number of the riddles and provides evidence for both the identity of the mapmaker and the source of the parchment used, and she applies current knowledge of medieval Norse culture and exploration to counter widespread misinformation about Norse voyages to North America and about the Norse world picture. From a Far Country: Camisards and Huguenots in the Atlantic World. Catherine Randall. 2009. University of Georgia Press, Athens, GA, USA. 192 pp. USD 44.95, softcover. ISBN 9780820333908. In From a Far Country, Catharine Randall examines Huguenots and their less-known cousins the Camisards, offering a fresh perspective on the important role these French Protestants played in settling the New World. The Camisard religion was marked by more ecstatic expression than that of the Huguenots, not unlike differences between Pentecostals and Protestants. Both groups were persecuted and emigrated in large numbers, becoming participants in the broad circulation of ideas that characterized the seven- The Journal of the North Atlantic welcomes submissions of review copies of books that publishers or authors would like to recommend to the journal’s readership and are relevant to the journal’s mission of publishing information about the peo ples of the North Atlantic, their ex pan sion into the region over time, and their in ter ac tions with their chang ing environments. Accompanying short, descriptive summaries of the text are also welcome.