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Publisher's Summary

We all know those stories that have been told in our families for generations. The ones that start ‘Have I ever told you about your great-great-uncle...?’ 

In some cultures these stories have been passed down for thousands of years and often reveal significant information about how the surrounding environment has changed and the effect it has had on societies - from stories referring to coastal drowning to the devastation caused by meteorite falls. Among the most extensive and best analysed of these stories are from native Australian cultures. 

People arrived in Australia more than 60,000 years ago, and the need to survive led to the development of knowledge that was captured orally in stories passed down through the generations. These stories conveyed both practical information and recorded history, and they frequently made reference to a coastline that was very different to the one we recognise today. In at least 21 different communities along the fringe of Australia, flood stories were recorded by European anthropologists, missionaries and others. 

It’s only relatively recently that these stories have been recognised as more or less the same. They described a lost landscape that is now under as much as 100 feet of ocean. And these folk traditions are backed up by hard science. Geologists are now starting to corroborate the tales through study of climatic data, sediments and land forms; the evidence was there in the stories, but until recently, nobody was listening. 

Using Australia as a springboard, this book explores the science in folk history. It looks at other ancient tales and traditions that may in all probability be rooted in scientifically verifiable fact and can be explored via geological evidence, such as the biblical flood. Nowadays the majority of our historical knowledge comes from the written word, but in The Edge of Memory, Patrick Nunn explores the largely untapped resource of the collective human memory that is held in stories. This important book explores the wider implications for our knowledge of how human society has developed through the millennia.

©2018 Patrick Nunn (P)2018 Audible, Ltd

What listeners say about The Edge of Memory

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Ill-informed narrator

Most interesting story, but the narrator let it down. Considering that a majority of the examples used throughout are Australian, I would expect the narrator to be able to pronounce accurately Australian place names. At the very least the audio producer should have ensured this in rehearsal or by coaching. The examples I refer to are numerous, but some words that made me wince included mis-pronunciations of Nullarbor, Nepean, Bathurst, Warrnambool ( okay this one is a bit trickier), Mt Gambier - the list goes on.

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Amazing book, narrator didn't do his research.

This is an incredible read. The narrator mispronounced almost every noun in the book. This aside the book is a must read for anyone interested in history and anthropology.

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Intriguing and revealing

exposed a living, breathing planet with credible ancient folklore, enthusiastic narrator a little too quick for full comprehension

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  • Martin
  • 05-12-2020

oral history is real history

We should listen to the ancient tales for not so hidden truths regarding geology, mega fauna extinctions and astronomical events.

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  • Khan
  • 30-06-2019

memories live on

amazing research for any interested in the oral preservation of folk memories, focusing on the aboriginal recollections.

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  • P. K. Mang
  • 13-09-2020

Gets repetitive

The initial premise is interesting but beyond that gets very repetitive. The narration constantly giving sea depths in meters and feet is also annoying and hard to follow.

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  • Susan Harvey
  • 30-03-2020

Fascinating

Beautifully written and researched. The sort of book that leaves you with a changed perspective. Highly recommended.

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  • Aisha Christison
  • 13-12-2018

Very interesting book, competent narration

This book is very enlightening and contains a lot more scientific context than I anticipated. The narration is clear and consistent, but the attempt to animate the text through inflection have actually made it more difficult to understand as it seems inauthentic.

In the spirit of reconciliation, Audible Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.