... arresting ... Shah’s voluminous research shows that living things have been on the move for millennia, often improving the places where they land. She describes extraordinary migrations...all centuries before humans crossed the seas. In fascinating passages on mitochondrial DNA and GPS technology, she explains that the vast migrations of plants and birds was pretty much a mystery to scientists until very recently ... But Shah has assigned herself a much larger task, for the book also undertakes a critique of Western science since the 18th century, exposing the bigotry that has often poisoned its conclusions. The history of eugenics, 'race science' and population studies consume three long chapters—too long, in this reader’s view ... That said, The Next Great Migration is both a terrific work of science journalism and a valuable corrective to the latest wave of immigration hysteria sweeping Western nations.
... a deeply researched and counterintuitive history that much received wisdom about migration—human or otherwise—rests on a series of misconceptions ... Shah’s tone is neither smug nor triumphalist. She is clear about the power and the danger of xenophobic politics, tracing the anti-refugee backlash that has been mobilised by the right, as well as the threat to our lives posed by the climate emergency. Hers is an optimistic book nonetheless, because it tells us that this is just the latest chapter in a long story of survival and adaptation ... This is a vivid and engaging story that weaves in the accounts of refugees Shah has met to illustrate the harm done by today’s border controls. As a writer, she has an eye for the visual metaphor, likening anti-immigration arguments to puffball mushrooms ... Those arguments may indeed be hollow but they spread their spores nonetheless: we need books such as this to expose them.
... Shah explores the history of intellectual connections among all these migration phenomena, tackling with compassion and insight a deeply complex and challenging subject ... The scope of Shah’s story is vast, and she has taken some scientific shortcuts along the way, including a few that undermine her argument. Biologists recognize a diversity of plant and animal movements: daily movement within a home range, annual cyclic migration, dispersal from natal origin to a place of breeding, gene flow among populations of a species, historical range expansion, species dispersal over a geographic barrier, etc. Shah lumps all of these under the concept of 'migration,' which makes some of her discussion confusing. How does the African origin of so much human diversity relate to the challenges cougars face crossing highways in Los Angeles? Or to the myth of altruistic lemmings leaping into the sea to their deaths? ... Now, there are many reasons a book might make a reader feel hot under the collar, but reading Shah’s dismissal of the impact of invasive species while scratching my neck was a real trigger for me...Although there is evidence for this argument, she fails to engage with the genuine ecological damage that introduced species are causing around the world...Nor does her book address the enormous ecological impact that human migration has already had on the planet ... proof that her work addresses issues of fundamental importance to the survival and well-being of us all.