cover image The Elder Brothers

The Elder Brothers

Alan Ereira. Knopf Publishing Group, $23 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-679-40618-1

The Kogi, survivors of a pre-Columbian civilization who live in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains of Colombia, call themselves the ``Elder Brothers'' of humanity: they believe they are the guardians of all life on earth. In 1988, the leaders of this isolated and secretive tribe, whose main purpose is to live in harmony with nature, decided the time had come to warn their ``Younger Brothers'' that activites like strip mining and oil drilling were killing the earth. They invited British radio and television producer Ereira to convey their message to the world, and the result was a PBS film, From the Heart of the World. In this account of how the movie was made, Ereira vividly portrays the Kogi society and recounts his difficult but often humorous relationship with a mysterious people whose metaphysical, nature-centered view of life is so different from that of modern industrial society. He combines his narrative with long translations in which the Kogi speak for themselves, delivering their urgent message in the hypnotic cadences that characterize their language. Ereira came away from his encounter with the Kogi convinced by their dire warning, which he forcefully reiterates in a moving and compelling book. Photos not seen by PW. (Feb.)