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The Other Side of Eden


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About the Author

Hugh Brody is an anthropologist and documentary filmmaker who has worked and traveled extensively among indigenous peoples. He is the author of several previous books.


Anthropologist, author, and documentary filmmaker Brody (Seasons of the Arctic) presents a sympathetic and informative study of several indigenous hunter-gatherer peoples of the North, including the Innu, Inuit, Nisga'a, and Dunne-za societies. He focuses on both the essential value of symbolic language (e.g., Inuktitut) for human culture and the ongoing struggle between sub-Arctic or Arctic hunters and the intrusive farmers. Full of facts, insights, and anecdotes, his analysis captures the joys and hardships of these peoples, who live in a world of ice, snow, ferocious winds, and treacherous waters. Brody takes the reader into the mental makeup of these oral, nomadic cultures, which stress equality, individualism, and a respect for the existential bond between self and place, as well as a deep respect for nature. He is very critical of the biases, prejudices, and negative stereotypes about hunters and gatherers that continue to be voiced by their farming neighbors. For its unique contribution to understanding and appreciating these hunter-gatherers of the frozen tundra, this book is recommended for all anthropology collections. H. James Birx, Canisius Coll., Buffalo Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Author, anthropologist and documentary filmmaker Brody offers a fascinating if sometimes digressive glimpse inside the world's vanishing hunter-gatherer cultures. Drawing on nearly three decades of experience living and working in indigenous societies from the high Arctic to the Kalahari, he challenges traditional assumptions and serves as a passionate advocate for hunter-gatherer societies. Brody argues convincingly that farmers are the true nomads, forced to continually break, transform and control new ground, while hunter-gatherers tend to stay rooted in one place for centuries, carefully balancing needs and resources and flourishing because of a sophisticated blend of detailed knowledge and intuition. Brody also demonstrates a deeply held commitment to respectful, egalitarian relationships among people in hunter-gatherer societies. Particularly captivating are his firsthand observations of the Inuit in the high Arctic, with whom he traveled and studied extensively. Less compelling is a protracted and often confusing effort to demonstrate that the book of Genesis provides a mythic rationale for the farming culture that now dominates most of the world. Wide-ranging references to linguistic, sociological and historical theories enable Brody to make connections between hunter-gatherer societies separated by time and distance. In so doing, he convincingly dispels the notion that such societies are more primitive than our own; indeed, he sees evidence of the "hunter-gatherer mind" in the urban world's visionaries, artists, speculative scientists and others who choose freedom over certainty. Yet by the end, he makes a compelling case for respecting both cultures' unique place. (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

"The best books change the way you think. This is one of those." --National Geographic Adventure"An informed, passionate and enlightening volume . . . that draws on an exceedingly rich experience and adds new dimensions to our understanding . . ." --The New York Times"Brody's book is more than merely a personal story. It is also a radical and ambitious argument about human history." --Newsday"[Brody] presents a culture of exceptional maturity, rich in many of the things we believe we have lost . . ." --The New Yorker

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