Based on the author's extensive fieldwork, this classic ethnography,
now in its fifth edition, focuses on the Yanomamo. These truly
remarkable South American people are one of the few primitive
sovereign tribal societies left on earth. Changes in this new edition
include events and changes that have occurred since 1992, including
a recent trip by the author to the Brazilian Yanomamo in 1995. A new
chapter (Chapter 7) examines the author's long-term research in the
village of Mishimishimabowei-teri.
Mind Books -
Case study of the cultural anthropology of a native tribe of the
Amazon; their lifestyle, beliefs, social structure, and use of epena
snuff. More descriptive of daily life and beliefs; not as much plant
shamanism as Plotkin, not as personal as Donner. Discusses recent
politics and danger of extinction.
I am a graduating student of Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon
who was assigned to read this book for a Cultural Anthropology
class. Much to my surprise, this book has become a real page-turner!
I never thought I'd have a hard time putting down a textbook.
Chagnon's insightful, and more importantly, personalized account of
his experiences living among an Amazonian tribe is riveting. He is
graphic and provides the kind of realistic detail that is rarely
encountered in a textbook - at least none that I've come across so
far. He pulls no punches, either in his descriptions of the cultural
mores of the Yanomamo, or relating his own struggles and
disagreements with his anthropological colleagues. I heartily
recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning about
other cultures, and what motivates humans to behave as they do. This
is not just a book for college students or those working in the
Anthropology field. I am a Business Management major, but I find the
insights this book gives on the human condition to be invaluable. It
is always important to be able to see the world through other
people's eyes, and Napoleon Chagnon makes that possible through this
book. What better recommendation can I give, but that I will
definitely not be selling this book back to my college bookstore,
but rather adding it to my personal library! - lingrad
Most introductory ethnographies--descriptions of a variety of
cultures--drag on and on. Napoleon Chagnon's Yanomamo is different.
From his less-than-ideal first encounter with a dozen warriors who
greeted him with bows drawn, to a Jaguar's breath as a wake-up call
at 3:00 a.m. in the middle of a jungle, Chagnon takes his readers
through one (mis)adventure after another. Still, Yanomamo is far
more than an ethnographic thriller depicting a tribal people in
southern Venezuela. Chagnon describes in detail the Yanomamos'
seemingly exotic practices--the rule that a tribesman should marry
his classificatory cross-cousin, or the abduction of women that
invariably sparks a war, or a chest-pounding duel at any feast that
might prevent an all-out battle from breaking out amid the
festivities. More, he explains the significance of these (for us)
strange practices: for example, marrying your cross-cousin is a very
good way to keep your village together. (Read and find out how.) For
more than 20 years, I have used successive editions of this text for
my introductory anthropology courses. Indeed, Yanomamo is among the
most widely adopted ethnographies at the college freshman level.
This book is a readable yet solid piece of scholarship, one that
many students will keep long after the finals are over. - Paul V.