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Reindeer People


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A voyage of discovery into the life of a remote aboriginal community in the Siberian Arctic, where the reindeer has been a part of daily life since Palaeolithic times. Filled with anecdotes and stories, the book not only brings to life one vast but obscure corner of the planet - but also leaves some magical impressions in the reader's mind. Direct comparisons would be Barry Lopez ARCTIC DREAMS, Bruce Chatwin SONGLINES, Hugh Brody THE OTHER SIDE OF EDEN. Competition: Barry Lopez Artic Dreams, Bruce Chatwin Songlines, Hugh Brody The Other Side of Eden

About the Author

Piers Vitebsky is a noted anthropologist and deputy director (and Head of Social Sciences and Russian Studies) at the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge University. An acknowledged expert on Shamanism, he has spent much of the last decade and more living amongst the Eveny people in Siberia. His previous books include Dialogues with the Dead (Cambridge) and The Shaman (Macmillan).


For most Western readers, the thought of reindeer brings memories of Christmas trees and gifts. For the Eveny tribe of northeastern Siberia, this creature is much more: it is the source of their food, clothing, and transportation, the impetus for lengthy treks across inhospitable terrain, and a spiritual bridge between this world and the next. Vitebsky (anthropology, Russian northern studies, Univ. of Cambridge; The Shaman: Voyages of the Soul Trance, Ecstasy and Healing, from Siberia to the Amazon) has visited these herders every year for almost 20 years, witnessing their struggles not only with a brutal environment but also with the interference of pre- and post-Communist bureaucracies. Here he highlights his visits to the camps of the Eveny and his travels with them on their migrations, portraying their resilience as they cope with blizzards, wolves, government corruption, international market forces, and isolation. As he observes the complex and interdependent relationship between the Eveny and their reindeer, Vitebsky realizes that it is not necessarily so easy to determine who are the herders and who the herded. While anthropological literature has given us many studies of this region, this narrative is as richly detailed and compelling as it is instructive. Recommended for public and undergraduate libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 8/05.]-Dan Harms, SUNY at Cortland Lib. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

'Remarkable' Financial Times 'Like all the finest anthropology, this book entertains readers with descriptions of an alien culture, only to imbue them with a deeper sense of common humanity.' The Times 'If you read one book this year on a subject you never suspected would grab your attention and hold it through 400 deeply researched and elegantly written pages, read REINDEER PEOPLE. It will grip and enlighten anyone!.Like the reindeer themselves, this book take wing' Daily Telegraph 'a tender and highly personal piece of anthropology' Daily Mail 'So intimate, so revealing and so moving ... This book is required reading' The Moscow Times

In northeast Siberia, temperatures can drop to 96 degrees below zero. Boiling water flung from a teacup will freeze before reaching the ground. In these unimaginable conditions, the Eveny nomads have lived and thrived for thousands of years. Vitebsky, who teaches anthropology and Russian studies at Cambridge University, has spent much of the last 20 years among these people and their herds of reindeer. No dry anthropological study, his story teems with strong personalities, perilous adventures and time-honored folkways. Wearing thick reindeer coats and boots, Vitebsky accompanies the tribesmen across Siberia seeking small animals to trap and sell. He meets hunters who live alone for a year at a time, Russian bureaucrats whose only concern is making quotas set by their comrades in Moscow, and the extended families whose ties bind them through month-long blizzards and the simple stuff of daily life. At the story's center are the reindeer, providing meat, clothing and income. While the Eveny's ancestors followed the reindeer, migrating from Upper Mongolia to northern Siberia, present-day Eveny now tame, cultivate and survive with them in almost perfect balance. With grace, courage and sensitivity, Vitebsky reveals an extraordinary world, spinning a tale to warm any winter's night. Photos. Agent, Kathleen Anderson. (Dec. 8) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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