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East Is a Big Bird: Navigation and Logic on Puluwat Atoll
by Thomas Gladwin
Harvard University Press, 1970
Paper: 978-0-674-22426-1 | eISBN: 978-0-674-03762-5 | Cloth: 978-0-674-22425-4
Library of Congress Classification GN440.G55


Puluwat Atoll in Micronesia, with a population of only a few hundred proud seafaring people, can fulfill anyone's romantic daydream of the South Seas. Thomas Gladwin has written a beautiful and perceptive book which describes the complex navigational systems of the Puluwat natives, yet has done so principally to provide new insights into the effects of poverty in Western cultures.

The cognitive system which enables the Puluwatans to sail their canoes without instruments over trackless expanses of the Pacific Ocean is sophisticated and complex, yet the Puluwat native would score low on a standardized intelligence test. The author relates this discrepancy between performance and measured abilities to the educational problems of disadvantaged children. He presents his arguments simply and clearly, with sensitive and detailed descriptions and many excellent illustrations. His book will appeal to anthropologists, psychologists, and sailing enthusiasts alike.

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