""The truth is, we all have cannibals in our closets,"" writes Travis-Henikoff in her introduction to this meticulously researched, compulsively readable history of mankind's greatest taboo. As she eloquently illustrates, cannibalism has been around for as long as humans, and it's quite possible that its outlaw is a recent development in terms of recorded history. Many readers are no doubt familiar with the Chilean rugby team immortalized in Piers Paul Read's Alive (recounted again here), but not with the fact that widespread cannibalism has been documented in parts of war-torn Africa as recently as 2003. Sadistic serial killers and the oft-stereotyped tribesmen of the Amazon figure prominently, but where Travis-Henikoff truly excels is in her sociological and anthropological analysis, offering thoughtful insights into the whys of cannibalism, lucidly explaining how cannibalism can begin in a society, as well as its historical employment in times of famine, war and even during a period of political witch hunting in Communist China. A brief but entertaining digression into folklore examines cannibalism in fairy tales such as the Brothers Grimm. Throughout, Travis-Henikoff maintains a thoughtful tone, free of judgment, that frequently challenging readers' beliefs. The result is an eminently enjoyable, albeit very dark exploration of a taboo topic that should give armchair anthropologists, sociologists and historians plenty to chew on.
Reviewed on: 03/03/2008 Release date: 03/01/2008 Genre: Nonfiction
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