Throwim Way Leg

Tim Flannery. Atlantic Monthly Press, New York, 1998

A sheer delight, funny, informative, and thoughtful, this book recounts the adventures of a world-class mammalogist on the track of unknown mammals in the wild hinterlands of New Guinea. In the process, you meet and get to know a variety of very interesting natives, some cannibals, all described so vividly you feel you have met them personally. Flannery offers no excuses and few judgements — they just are as they are. While Flannery, who has named 20 new animal species in New Guinea, is the world’s leading expert on tree-kangaroos, this book makes it clear that there are NO animals he is not fond of. Singing dogs, shrieking frogs, giant anteaters, yard-long cave rats, all are part of his extended wild family. Much of the power of this wonderful book comes from Flannery’s concern for the future of New Guinea’s primitive peoples. Long isolated from “civilization” and, in steep valleys, from each other (New Guinea is home to 1000 languages, 1/6 of the world’s total), tribes are now confronting the outside world as gold mining begins in earnest.

Dr. George Johnson