Light at the Edge of the World: A Journey Through the Realm of Vanishing Cultures


180 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 1-55054-848-4
DDC 306'.08'0222






Reviewed by Patricia Morley

Patricia Morley is professor emerita of English and Canadian Studies at
Concordia University and an avid outdoor recreationist. She is the
author of several books, including The Mountain Is Moving: Japanese
Women’s Lives, Kurlek and Margaret Laurence: T


Wade Davis’s initial travels in North and South America led him “to
appreciate and embrace the key revelation of anthropology, the idea that
distinct cultures represent unique visions of life itself, morally
inspired and inherently right.” Davis captures that cultural diversity
in this strikingly beautiful book, which has both a substantial text and
a great many stunning color photographs. The large format does justice
to the photos, which range from panoramic visions of the Amazonian
Lowlands and Africa to Baffin Island and Tibet.

The book, which deals with the plight of indigenous peoples in Borneo,
northern Kenya, and Tibet, suggests that there is a “dark undercurrent
of our age, [a] manner in which ancient peoples ... are being torn from
their past and propelled into an uncertain future.” The book ends with
what Davis calls “the redemptive promise of Nunavut,” the creation
of the Inuit homeland in the Canadian Arctic. Davis’s text is grounded
in human experience and well salted with humor and intimate observation.

Davis has degrees in anthropology, biology, and ethnobotany.
Fortunately, his lively style has not been marred by years of exposure
to academia. Light at the Edge of the World makes a profound statement
both visually and philosophically, and deserves a place in every library
and home.


Davis, Wade., “Light at the Edge of the World: A Journey Through the Realm of Vanishing Cultures,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 15, 2024,