Noble Savages: My Life Among Two Dangerous Tribes%E2%80%94The Yanomam%C3%B6 and the Anthropologists

Napoleon A. Chagnon. Simon & Schuster, $32.50 (544p) ISBN 978-0-684-85510-3
Few social scientists end up as famous or contentious as American anthropologist Chagnon, whose unusually extensive field work among a highly remote Amazonian people, the Yanomamö, led to unorthodox conclusions about primitive societies in general and the Yanomamö's warlike nature in particular. In 2000, however, a veritable academic firestorm arose after Patrick Tierney's Darkness in El Dorado: How Scientists and Journalists Devastated the Amazon charged Chagnon, among others, with harming, deliberately or inadvertently, his research subjects, not least by starting a measles epidemic—an accusation that provoked his official condemnation (later reversed) by the American Anthropological Association. This memoir, Chagnon's first book for a general audience, recounts with confident prose and self-effacing humor his intense immersion, from 1964 onward, within this fascinating people and their jungle environment. It also critiques the Amazon's politically powerful, "sinister" Salesian Catholic missionaries, as well as the "ayatollahs of anthropology" for their Marxist-derived agenda and Rousseauian "noble savage" ideals, which run counter to his own Hobbesian beliefs. In this invaluable book, Chagnon (Yanomamö: The Last Days of Eden) delivers a gripping adventure travelogue. His take on the corrupting relationship between politics and science is as likely to restoke the flames of debate as settle outstanding accounts. Agent: John Taylor Williams, Kneerim & Williams Agency. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/05/2012
Release date: 02/19/2013
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 480 pages - 978-1-4516-1147-2
Paperback - 531 pages - 978-0-684-85511-0
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