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Anthropological Theory: An Introductory History
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2000
I used this text for an upper division undergraduate course in social theory. In general, I found the selection of articles to be wise and helpful; I didn't use all of them but used more than I would from any other compilation. The book doesn't adequately cover the recent period, but no text could, and the teacher should choose her own supplements to the core texts found herein. Unlike the first reviewer, my students and I found the extensive footnotes to be the book's most valuable resource. They kept the students' attention, contextualized obscure references, and clearly explained more challenging passages. I did not find that these footnotes interfered with the role of the teacher; instead, they freed the class to spend more time in fruitful interrogation of the authors' ideas and less time buried in minutae. I highly recommend this book for teachers of upperdivision theory courses, and for graduate students looking for an unfair advantage on their rivals as they take their core courses.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
This book contains works by most of the classic anthropological theorists. And very importantly, it contains footnotes, which are very helpful. However, it contains few current readings. Also, this edition of the book removes some of the better, more current selections from the older edition. If you are looking for a solid anthropological reader, then you can't go wrong with this text, BUT...try and get the earlier edition if you can.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 24, 2005
I used this text for an anthropological theories course in undergraduate work. It's a pretty decent collection of work from major figures in anthropology.

Spencer, Tylor, and Morgan, Levi-Strauss, Marx, Boas, etc, etc. There is also a lot of work done to try and tie a common thread through as much material as possible. Contextualization of how a theory came to be, and what it might imply are pretty well done. Chances are, you're buying this book for a class, rather than pleasure, and though this can be kind of dry, it's fairly well done. Some selections are puzzling in terms of what they illustrate for that author, but by and large it shouldn't kill you to read this book.

There are footnotes, too. These seem like a blessing to begin with, especially if you don't have much of a foothold in the material, there is a lot that you are caught up on quickly, and it can be very helpful. On the flipside, the editors can be very heavy-handed in guiding the reading, and can be sometimes inane in their commentary. This is the major failing of the book, it's more to read, and the later in the book you get, the less useful it is.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 1998
This is a book valuable to the upper division undergraduate and new gratuate student. The authors are very good at showing how the theory underlying anthropological ideas have developed through the writings of the greatest thinkers in different periods of history. A great benefit in this book is the extensive footnotes that are quite helpful to the reader. This text is a must for anyone interested in why anthropologists think the way they do.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 1, 2000
This book contains an excellent selection of essay for the teaching of anthropological theory (more for the graduate than undergraduate level). There are several essays that I would not have included, and several essays I would have added in their place, but this is the inevitable reaction to any anthology. The biggest problem with the book is the copius footnotes that contain the editors' commentaries on the reading materials. While some of these notes are appropriate (the translation of a foreign-language term or a biographical note on a particular thinker cited in the text), the great majority are the editors' summaries, explanations, and evaluations of the text itself. The editors are virtually reading over the students' shoulders telling the students what to see and what to think. These comments betray a lack of trust in the students and their professors. If these notes were removed, Anthropological Theory would be an excellent book. With the commentaries, its quality is dramatically reduced.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2014
I used this text in an undergraduate History of Anthropology course. This text includes 41 articles spanning the history of anthropology, from Herbert Spencer with "The Social Organism" to Appadurai with "Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy." (Some early articles from the field of sociology are also included, like Durkheim's "What is a Social Fact?") My course required us to read one section (usually 3-4 articles) each week and write a precis on each.

Some articles are more difficult than others (primarily the older ones, just due to writing style, although some of the newer articles could stand to be less wordy), and the comments made by McGee and Warms are extremely helpful in dissecting some of those articles, particularly the ones that present new theoretical ideas.

Prior to each section, there is a short (usually 2-3 page) introduction by McGee and Warms introducing the next several articles, discussing the authors, and setting the scene for the time in which they were written.

This is a great book for better understanding the history of anthropology by reading articles written by the anthropologists themselves, rather than just a summary in a textbook. I highly recommend this for any undergraduate (or graduate) course studying the history of anthropology and for anyone interested in the history of the field.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2013
Not happy about the price, even used was extremely expensive. However it is a textbook, so I suppose it is to be expected.

The book itself is very useful and it is great that it has actual articles written by the anthropologists themselves instead of a simple retelling.

When I first started using it I completely ignored the footnotes which was a silly mistake. The footnotes are so very helpful and really clarify everything as well as provide useful supplemental information.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2012
The articles are good, and some of the explanation too. HOWEVER, the sexual adventures or leanings of the anthropologists whose articles are presented here are irrelevant to the text. WHY must that be a focus instead of the theory itself? These remarks were inserted by the authors of the textbook, and unless I am studying about the actual life of the anthropologist, how is this pertinent? Stick to the theory and leave the drama to Hollywood.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2013
Easy to read, very good for anyone interested in learning about the history of anthropology. I needed this book for only one class, but its definitely earned a permanent spot on my bookshelf.
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on June 14, 2014
If you really want to know about Anthropology (more so on the cultural side of things rather than linguistic, archaeological, or the physical sub-fields) or considering it as a major, start here. If you are going to grad school in Anthropology, you should not do so without reading this volume and becoming well acquainted with the persons and the theories that shaped the discipline which are detailed inside this volume's pages. I'm going to grad school in Linguistic Anthropology and having read this volume before my program starts, I consider it to be invaluable. Yes, there are certain persons that the volume does not include however that is the reason why 'introduction' is in the title. ;) The bibliography is a list of mostly must have articles and books to be on your shelf.
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