First Contact: 2new Guinea's Highlanders Encounter the Outside World

Bob Connelly, Author, Bob Connolly, Author, Robin Anderson, Author Viking Books $19.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-670-80167-1
In the early 1930s, a team of Australians ventured into the unexplored highlands of New Guinea looking for gold. They found more than a million tribespeople who never had experienced contact with the outside world. One of the prospectors, Michael Leahy, recorded the confrontation between 20th century and Stone Age cultures in photographs and film footage. This documentary evidence was forgotten for 50 years, until filmmakers Connolly and Anderson stumbled across it. Fascinated, they tracked down both the surviving prospectors and tribespeople for a series of interviews that produced an extraordinary portrait of the two sides of ""first contact.'' Village elders tell how they reacted when white men and their weapons appeared: ``We thought the gun was just for shooting pigs and that it couldn't hurt men.'' The Leahy brothers saw the contact from a different perspective; they never attempted to learn about native culture or to regard the people other than as objects to be exploited. The opposing viewpoints presented here interact to create a classic story of colonialism and its aftereffects. Photos. (August 3)
Reviewed on: 08/04/1987
Release date: 08/01/1987
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 316 pages - 978-0-14-007465-9
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