Longlisted for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award
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."—The New York Times Book Review
"Shah convincingly argues that politicians against immigration distort and misuse data to create unnecessary and cruel barriers, [and that] we must face the inevitable: our social, political and ecological world is changing substantially. The altered communities that result won’t just be different, they’ll often be better adapted to thrive in our warming world."—Emma Marris, Nature
“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
“Humans have always been a migratory species, and so are most other animals. In this striking look at a planet on the move, Sonia Shah provides a bold new way of looking at the ecological and political turbulence of our time—a vision that is as full of hope as it is of understanding.”—Charles Mann, The New York Times bestselling author of 1491
“In vivid detail, The Next Great Migration unfolds a conception of the relationship between life and place characterized by dynamic, almost continuous, processes of change. At once stunning in scope and intimate in its narrative unfolding, The Next Great Migration is a beacon for all those who strive to envision a future affected by climate change—a future in which migration is not a crisis but a solution.”—Anna J. Secor, Durham University Professor of Geography and editor, Cultural Geographies
“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)
“Meticulously researched, yet highly readable, this work presents a nuanced counterargument to the idea of a static world where each being belongs to a certain place . . . An interesting read that deals with a topic that is current and important to all. It will present a thoughtful challenge to many readers.”—Library Journal
“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)