Skip to main content
US Macmillan Tradebooks for Courses

Wayfinding

The Science and Mystery of How Humans Navigate the World

M. R. O'Connor

St. Martin's Press

Wayfinding Download image

ISBN10: 1250096960
ISBN13: 9781250096968

Hardcover

368 Pages

$29.99

CA$38.99

Request Desk Copy
Request Exam Copy

TRADE BOOKS FOR COURSES NEWSLETTER

Sign up to receive information about new books, author events, and special offers.

Sign up now

In this compelling narrative, O'Connor seeks out neuroscientists, anthropologists and master navigators to understand how navigation ultimately gave us our humanity. Biologists have been trying to solve the mystery of how organisms have the ability to migrate and orient with such precision—especially since our own adventurous ancestors spread across the world without maps or instruments. O'Connor goes to the Arctic, the Australian bush and the South Pacific to talk to masters of their environment who seek to preserve their traditions at a time when anyone can use a GPS to navigate.

O’Connor explores the neurological basis of spatial orientation within the hippocampus. Without it, people inhabit a dream state, becoming amnesiacs incapable of finding their way, recalling the past, or imagining the future. Studies have shown that the more we exercise our cognitive mapping skills, the greater the grey matter and health of our hippocampus. O'Connor talks to scientists studying how atrophy in the hippocampus is associated with afflictions such as impaired memory, dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, depression and PTSD.
Wayfinding is a captivating book that charts how our species' profound capacity for exploration, memory and storytelling results in topophilia, the love of place.

Reviews

Praise for Wayfinding

"O'Connor talked to just the right people in just the right places, and her narrative is a marvel of storytelling on its own merits, erudite but lightly worn. There are many reasons why people should make efforts to improve their geographical literacy, and O'Connor hits on many in this excellent book—devouring it makes for a good start."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Reviews from Goodreads

BOOK EXCERPTS

Read an Excerpt

THE LAST ROADLESS PLACE


It took five years of planning and fifty-six days of sailing for British privateer Martin Frobisher to “discover” Baffin Island in the Arctic in 1576. Propelled by jet fuel in a Boeing 737, it took me...

About the author

M. R. O'Connor

M.R. O'CONNOR’s reporting has appeared in Foreign Policy, Slate, The Atlantic, Nautilus and The New Yorker. Her work has received support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, The Nation Institute's Investigative Fund, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. In 2016 she was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT. She is the author of Resurrection Science. A graduate of Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, she lives in Flatbush, Brooklyn.

None

M. R. O'Connor

Official Links