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Abstract

The Sweet Potato in Oceania: A Reappraisal (Ballard, et al., 2005) is a book that might not achieve the readership it deserves, even for Rapanuiphiles. Due to its esoteric subject - and due to the fact that, at least at present, it is unavailable in bookstores or via Amazon.com. Acquisition, therefore, require determination. But the implications contained in this book, especially Chapter 8 ("Sweet Potato Production on Rapa Nui" by Wallin, Stevenson, and Ladefoged) and, to a lesser extent, in Chapter 5 (Green), are potentially staggering. They provide, even in the absence of definitive evidence, a cogent explanation of not only the role of the sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) in Oceania and on Easter Island but the likelihood of subsequent contact or colonization on Easter Island, which is sometlllng that I would think, however much it's been bandied about casually, would surprise or entice most Rapanuiphiles and researchers.

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