From Bloomsbury Publishing:
Finalist for the 2021 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award
A Library Journal Best Science & Technology Book of 2020
A Publishers Weekly Best Nonfiction Book of 2020
2020 Goodreads Choice Award Semifinalist in Science & Technology
A prize-winning journalist upends our centuries-long assumptions about migration through science, history, and reporting–predicting its lifesaving power in the face of climate change.
The news today is full of stories of dislocated people on the move. Wild species, too, are escaping warming seas and desiccated lands, creeping, swimming, and flying in a mass exodus from their past habitats. News media presents this scrambling of the planet’s migration patterns as unprecedented, provoking fears of the spread of disease and conflict and waves of anxiety across the Western world. On both sides of the Atlantic, experts issue alarmed predictions of millions of invading aliens, unstoppable as an advancing tsunami, and countries respond by electing anti-immigration leaders who slam closed borders that were historically porous.
But the science and history of migration in animals, plants, and humans tell a different story. Far from being a disruptive behavior to be quelled at any cost, migration is an ancient and lifesaving response to environmental change, a biological imperative as necessary as breathing. Climate changes triggered the first human migrations out of Africa. Falling sea levels allowed our passage across the Bering Sea. Unhampered by barbed wire, migration allowed our ancestors to people the planet, catapulting us into the highest reaches of the Himalayan mountains and the most remote islands of the Pacific, creating and disseminating the biological, cultural, and social diversity that ecosystems and societies depend upon. In other words, migration is not the crisis–it is the solution.
Conclusively tracking the history of misinformation from the 18th century through today’s anti-immigration policies, The Next Great Migration makes the case for a future in which migration is not a source of fear, but of hope.
“Shah [tackles] with compassion and insight a deeply complex and challenging subject . . . Shah effectively shows that understanding human migration is fundamentally an intersectional problem, incorporating race, ethnicity, religion, gender, class, economic inequality, politics, nationalism, colonialism and health, not to mention genetics, evolution, ecology, geography, climate, climate change and even plate tectonics . . . her work addresses issues of fundamental importance to the survival and well-being of us all.” – New York Times Book Review
“Shah offers a refreshing and crucially humane counterargument to the idea that migration spells societal catastrophe. Interweaving the human history of movement with parables from nature, she reframes migration not as an exception in an otherwise static world but instead as a biological and cultural norm―and one that should be embraced, not feared . . . a provocative invitation to imagine the inevitable migration of the future as an opportunity, rather than a threat.” – Washington Post
“A fascinating study [that] debunks false narratives about immigration and finds that, in common with other species, the urge to move is written in our genes … That literature of track and trace, part detective story, part reportage, took Shah to remote corners of the world and to distant grid references of history … This book―a wandering narrative about why people wander―is likely to prove equally prophetic in the coming months and years, since it asks two questions that are already shaping our geopolitics: what causes human beings to migrate? And is such mass movement beneficial to more settled communities and nations?” – The Guardian
“Rich with eclectic research and on-the-ground reporting, Sonia Shah’s book presents us with a dazzlingly original picture of our relentlessly mobile species. At a moment when migrants face walls of hatred, this is a story threaded with joy and inspiration.” – Naomi Klein, author of ON FIRE: THE BURNING CASE FOR A GREEN NEW DEAL
“The persistent differences between peoples–cultural, philosophical and physical–have made migration a perennially contentious matter, something Ms. Shah seeks to address with science, not sentiment . . . thoughtful and eloquent.” – Wall Street Journal
“[Shah’s] book is a reminder that a more thoughtful approach to the beautiful, increasing movement of sentient beings is indeed close to our realm of possibility.” – Boston Globe
“A thoughtful and thought-provoking defense of migration.” – Science
“Countering the perception that today’s human and nonhuman migrations represent a global crisis, this engrossing book draws on history, interviews, and a wide range of scientific research to show that migration is ‘an unexceptional ongoing reality.’ ” – The New Yorker
“A masterful survey of migration in both nature and humanity, countering some long-held misconceptions…a valuable treatise on how humanity can ‘reclaim our history of migration’ and adopt a more pan-global perspective.” – Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“An incisive examination of migration, which she considers a phenomenon both biological and cultural…A scientifically sophisticated, well-considered contribution to the literature of movement and environmental change.” – Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Illuminating . . . This work’s beguiling synergy of science, history, and contemporary politics is impressive enough, but it is this intuitive author’s captivating narration that makes this such a bracingly intelligent and important title.” – Booklist (starred review)