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Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture Paperback – December 17, 1989
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Top Customer Reviews
This is the first book I have ever assigned in class that students have asked if they may read all at once, instead of a chapter a week. They can't put it down!
Written in an open and accessible style, COWS, PIGS, WARS & WITCHES is aimed toward the academic community, but doesn't read that way at all. Though it references classic anthropological works such as Ruth Benedict's PATTERNS OF CULTURE, the book is careful to seed the rest of the text with explanation, thus keeping the more scholarly aspects of the work from alienating readers from the "outside" and deep-sixing the book's readability.
In short, Harris' book is a solid addition to any reader's library, provided his unflinching analysis of some of the more common "sacred cows" doesn't offend.
Of course some Christians might not like what he has to say about their 'Messiah', but when all the facts are looked at, including the development of 'Messiah's' in other cultures, he is very convincing.
Even though he doesn't say it, his book shows how cultures around the world live by a simple rule, 'those who have lots - waste lots, those who have little - waste little'. I found this amusing as environmentalists usually look to primitive societies as 'waste not want not' societies.
This is a book that should seriously be incorporated into the school curriculum. It's explanation of how our differences developed show how similar we actually all are.
Still, the main thesis and the stories Harris uses to support it strike me as worth knowing, even if the current age of evolutionary psychology offers alternative (almost always better, sometimes complementary) theories supported with more rigorous evidence.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Marvin Harris is not a good anthropologist and has very very skewed views.Published 4 months ago by katelyn badali
One of the classics of the literature, and makes doctoral level ideas accessible to a street-level audience.Published 5 months ago by joelh605
A fantastic read. Academia that is easily accessible to the average reader.Published 5 months ago by Aaron
Marvin Harris is called by many to be one of the first anthropologists but really he is one the last orientalists. Read morePublished 5 months ago by al-Halabi
Not the beast book I read this year, but still interesting enough to keep me engaged.Published 7 months ago by Jullian Anderson
This is a great looking into cultural materialism -- an interesting read for anyone, not just those interested in anthropology.Published 8 months ago by Adriann