EASTER ISLAND: Land of Mysteries by Peggy Mann

EASTER ISLAND: Land of Mysteries

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Perhaps the biggest moment here is one readers may remember from Heyerdahl's Aku-Aku: a native Pascuense demonstrates how his ancestors raised the giant stone moai, a feat which had mystified outsiders for centuries. Peggy Mann places the archaeological enigmas in context, reconstructing the island's history from the days of the first European visitors who had to contend with the islanders passion for stealing hats, to the more recent era of not so benign neglect under Chilean rule. Mann also pieces together scraps of earlier history--in which Easter's culture apparently declined from the golden age of the moai builders to cannibalistic war between rival factions of Long Ears and Short Ears. We were nevertheless disoriented by the assertion that in 1722, the year the island was named, Easter fell on a Thursday, and we found Mann's failure to take the initiative in evaluating Heyerdahl's hypotheses a disappointment. From any angle, this is no more than a work of assimilation. Even as such, it duplicates many of the same sources collected in Dos Passos' Easter Island (1971, adult); still, Mann's ability to concentrate on the Pascuenses as they are and were and to remain largely apart from the fray of controversial theories has some advantages. The narrative's inchoate viewpoint is redeemed to an extent by its easy-going inclusiveness.

Pub Date: June 28th, 1976
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston