Viking has swung in for Jungle, Dr Patrick Roberts’ story of the effect of rainforests on humanity, which has seen a battle for rights across Europe.
World English lanaguage rights were acquired by editor Connor Brown from Joanna Swainson at Hardman & Swainson, for Jungle: How Tropical Forests Shaped the World – and Us, which is due to be published in spring 2022.
German rights were snapped up for six figures by dtv in a 10-way auction after two attempted pre-empts, while the title has also been won at auction in the Netherlands by Nieuw Amsterdam, bought by France’s Fayard and pre-empted by Leda in the Czech Republic. Hardman & Swainson rights director Thérèse Coen said there was also "strong" interest in the book in Spain and across Scandinavia.
Using cutting-edge research techniques—from plant genetics and sediment coring to laser scanning from aircraft—Jungle will show that the rise and development tropical forests were not just crucial in the development and evolution of the world's atmosphere, flora and fauna, but our own species. Roberts argues that our view of humans as "savannah specialists" is wildly wrong, and that "the Anthropocene began not with the Industrial Revolution, but perhaps as early as 6,000 years ago in the tropics".
Oxford-educated Roberts is research group leader at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany. He has worked in jungles across the Amazon Basin, lowlands of Sri Lanka, Wet Tropics of Australia, and island settings of Wallacea and wider Pacific. He has written or co-authored numerous peer-reviewed journal articles and his work has featured on the BBC, Channel 4 and in the Times, among others. He is also the author of the academic book Tropical Forest Prehistory, History and Modernity (OUP) but this is his first for a trade audience.
Brown said: “Jungle is a wonderful mix of history, science, archaeology and a personal touch—with Dr Roberts having worked in the places he writes about—and it is genuinely revisionist in its claims that humans are not savannah animals and that the Anthropocene began 6,000 years ago. Dr Roberts is a big-name in the making—at just 29, his output is remarkable—and he can really write, too. We’re delighted to be publishing him at Viking.”