Adapt and survive;Reviews;Books

24th April 1998 at 01:00
People of the...

Rain Forests by Anna Lewington and Edward Parker. Grasslands by David Lambert. Polar Regions and Mountains by Jen Green Wayland pound;9.99 each.

These books offer some real geography in terms of the immense richness of human life they convey. After the scantiest of physical explanations, each title launches into illustrated accounts of the ways people live and make their living in contrasting settings from the poles to the equator.

They illustrate a fascination with the real world that can make geography so exciting. There is also a very positive mood created by the authors. We all know, for example, the threats to the rain forests stemming from exploitation. But we also learn about successful adaptations to tropical environments and the variety of forest activities.

Similarly, some stereotypes are challenged. For example, most people know Inuit is the preferred term to Eskimo, but it is refreshing to see pictures of these people coping with timeless problems in modern ways. The cover of Polar Regions shows a Canadian Inuit riding on a snowmobile. Descriptions of the Masai in East Africa are less positive, however.

There are dozens of pictures showing a kaleidoscope of human responses to often hostile environments. The message is of people adapting to contrasting circumstances in ways that do not threaten the planet.

Some of the language is rather difficult, but with guided use they have much to offer.

Colin Harris is an independent inspector and freelance consultant based in Hertfordshire

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