"When the Universe Was an Island is without question a masterpiece, opening insights into the culture and society of this tiny island populated with a vast number of ceremonial platforms (ahu) and impressive statues (moai) devoted to deified ancestors. […]. The book covers most aspects in life of Rapanui society, a life deeply soaked in religion. […] Surely this will be an indispensable book for both Rapa Nui aficionados and specialists. It will become required reading for anyone interested in the rich Rapanui culture."
- A. César González-García, Journal for the History of Astronomy, Nov. 2014
"Providing a new perspective on a well known subject can often prove to be a quixotic task, but When the Universe Was an Island avoids that trap, thanks in main to the admirable feat of presenting a complex time frame within one publication: from the pioneering skills of the early Polynesian explorers and wayfinders, to cultural adaptation, to eighteenth century foreign explorers and tradesmen in the Pacific, and finally to the continuum -- Rapa Nui today. The publication describes particular stages of Rapa Nui life merging into others in great detail, clearly based on a combined effort and a lifetime of research and understanding. [...] The depth of research is impressive, and all elements of island life seem to be accounted for [...]. From reading When the Universe Was an Island one is left with an overwhelming sense of paradox; of seismic shifts and collisions, and of continuity and survival. With the shift from the Ancestor Cult to the Birdman Cult and the destruction of the ceremonial platforms, to the collisions following European contact, the slave raids, epidemics, exploitation, annexation, weapons, diseases, and greed. And yet there is a synthesis here; the publication reminds the reader that whilst there may be a global trend for indigenous peoples to reinstate their cultural identity, indigenous culture per se is never a constant. This is clearly the case for Rapa Nui -- despite everything, the Rapanui have survived."
- Peter Robinson, The Bradshaw Foundation
"[Edmundo and Alexandra Edwards] have compiled an exhaustive study of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) in When the Universe was an Island: Exploring the Cultural and Spiritual Cosmos of Ancient Rapa Nui, which opens a window onto a little-known part of human history. […] The book, which includes an extensive bibliography, dictionary, tables of festivals, and other information, is a must-read before visiting Rapa Nui."
- The Explorers Journal, Spring 2014
"To my knowledge there is no other book about Easter Island that incorporates the material that Edmundo Edwards and his daughter Alexandra Edwards, have collected here. It is a gold mine of esoteric information. […]. The reader will not hear lurid tales of islanders destroying their habitat in When the Universe Was an Island, but about the gods of Polynesia, the ancient rituals of those who settled Rapa Nui, the cycle of life, and those pesky aku-aku from the world of the spirits. We learn of the importance of the stars in the heavens, of cargo cults, nature spirits, and deified ancestors — the meaning of life on Rapa Nui. We learn of social organization connections with the rest of Polynesia, the names of them men who became Birdmen, and the priests and kings. […] When the Universe Was an Island: Exploring the Cultural and Spiritual Cosmos of Ancient Rapa Nui is a tour-de-force that belongs in the library of all serious students of the past culture and lifestyle of the Rapanui. Highly recommended!"
- Dr. Georgia Lee, The Rapa Nui Journal
"Edmundo Edwards is considered a world eminence regarding the archaeological and cultural legacy of Oceania. Together with his daughter Alexandra they are the authors of When the Universe Was an Island Exploring the Cultural and Spiritual Cosmos of Ancient Rapa Nui (Hangaroa Press 2013), a valuable publication about the ethnography, history, and archaeoastronomy of Rapanui culture."
- Mario Rodríguez, Ercilla
A Word From Our Readers...
Patrick V. Kirch, Professor of Anthropology and Integrative Biology at University of California, Berkeley, wrote:
"Congratulations on this very important contribution to Rapa Nui ethnography and archaeology."
Alan Nichols, President of the Explorer's Club, New York, NY, wrote:
"When the Universe Was an Island is not only a work of art but a tour de force that will be a valued part of our library."
Donald Kennedy, Professor and President Emeritus at Stanford University, Stanford, CA, wrote:
"Two months ago, I had the opportunity to spend some time on Rapa Nui [...]. It was my second visit, and my second opportunity to examine at close range the superb archaeological work that is being done by [...] this extraordinary group of researchers. [...] Their work ranges from archaeology, using classical methods, to a kind of 'rural sociology' in which oral histories and documents from early European visitors are used to trace changes in the island's society. [...] It was a great pleasure for me to [witness their] deep scholarly interest with a passionate commitment to the future of studies on the island and its people. I believe that Edmundo and Alexandra's new book will enhance the interest of foundations here in the United States, as well as private individuals, to want to support this important work."
Lonnie B. Williams Jr., Partner at Marshall, Williams, and Gorham, LLP in Wilmington, NC, wrote:
"The book appears to be very comprehensive. I told my wife that you could teach a course on Rapa Nui with that book. I enjoyed the acknowledgements to the early explorers and archaeologists, including Katherine Routledge and Dr. William Mulloy. Alexandra and Edmundo are now among the great researchers who have helped us gain some understanding of that truly unique place and culture."
Francisco Förster, Astronomer at the University of Chile, Santiago, Chile wrote:
"I finished the book a few weeks back, and I liked it very much. I think the book is going to become a classic. You can clearly see the Routledge -> Metraux -> Edwards line."