Notebooks from New Guinea: Fieldnotes of a Tropical Biologist
This is a unique and delightfully engaging account by a leading tropical biologist of doing science at one of the last wild frontiers in the world. Vojtech Novotny is a highly respected Czech scientist. His widely cited work, of profound importance to ecology and evolution, is not done, like much modern science, in a lab full of gleaming apparatus. Instead, he chose as his 'laboratory' the remotest parts of Papua New Guinea, where he has established a research station. Supported by a team of Papuans whom he has trained up so that they can combine their wide and intimate knowledge of the plants and animals of their tropical forest with the knowledge of modern science, Novotny studies the ecological interactions of butterflies and plants.
Clearly this is no ordinary scientist. Combined with his intrepid courage (PNG is one of the most dangerous places on Earth, with a very high homicide rate), he is a shrewd observer of human nature. In the richly varied notes and reflections of this very individual volume are not only descriptions of natural history and scientific research in the rainforest, but accounts of the local peoples and their culture, the challenges of working across very different cultures, and amusing portraits of the antics of Western tourists, separated by a few 'intermezzi' - episodes when the author fought bouts of malaria.
Novotny is that rare combination of excellent scientist and superb storyteller. The faithful translations by David Short bring these notes and reflections on science, nature, and human beings to a wide audience, without any loss to their richness, warmth, humility, and wisdom. The volume is illustrated with beautiful drawings by a self-taught Papuan artist, Benson Avea Bego, who lives in a remote village.
"In contemplating a single word to use in describing this work, this reviewer had come up with "amazing," only to discover on the book's back cover that eminent biologist E. O. Wilson had used the same adjective. Highly recommended."--Choice
"When not busy with his researches (and these are recounted with a winningly light touch), Novotny has found time to explore this unique culture. The results are spectacular: an exercise in witty and whimsical amateur anthropology that puts the professionals to shame."--Geographical
"What is striking about Notebooks is how there is a perfect balance between the academic and the literary. This is a very intriguing book with thoughtful and intelligent analysis and conclusions, and yet one does not feel as though they are reading a stuffy academic publication. Czech author Vojtech Novotny (translated by David Short) has provided a very interesting tale of travels, broadening horizons and insight unto the human condition." -- Sacramento
Vew all titles in Asia-Pacific combined with Papua New Guinea
View other products from the same publisher