From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. "The truth is, we all have cannibals in our closets," writes Travis-Henikoff in her introduction to this meticulously researched, compulsively readable history of mankind's greatest taboo. As she eloquently illustrates, cannibalism has been around for as long as humans, and it's quite possible that its outlaw is a recent development in terms of recorded history. Many readers are no doubt familiar with the Chilean rugby team immortalized in Piers Paul Read's Alive (recounted again here), but not with the fact that widespread cannibalism has been documented in parts of war-torn Africa as recently as 2003. Sadistic serial killers and the oft-stereotyped tribesmen of the Amazon figure prominently, but where Travis-Henikoff truly excels is in her sociological and anthropological analysis, offering thoughtful insights into the whys of cannibalism, lucidly explaining how cannibalism can begin in a society, as well as its historical employment in times of famine, war and even during a period of political witch hunting in Communist China. A brief but entertaining digression into folklore examines cannibalism in fairy tales such as the Brothers Grimm. Throughout, Travis-Henikoff maintains a thoughtful tone, free of judgment, that frequently challenging readers' beliefs. The result is an eminently enjoyable, albeit very dark exploration of a taboo topic that should give armchair anthropologists, sociologists and historians plenty to chew on.
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A Choice magazine Outstanding Academic Title for 2008
"Travis-Henikoff covers the phenomenon's many raisons d'être, from survival to politically motivated terror. . . . The book's range is impressive. Highly recommended for public libraries." Library Journal
"A careful and scholarly look at cannibalism, filled with humor, history, and fascinating facts; a totally delectable delight to read." Ralph L. Holloway, professor of anthropology, Columbia University
"If we are to ultimately fashion a real image of ourselves, not as fallen angels but as risen apes, this book will serve as an essential step in that direction." Alan Mann, professor of anthropology, Princeton University
"Exceptionally well researched and beautifully written. Our notion of exotic food may never be the same." Alan Almquist, professor emeritus of anthropology, California State UniversityEast Bay
"Travis-Henikoff's lively and sometimes amusing anthropophagic romp shows that starvation and cultural patterns are often strong enough to counter moral taboos." College and Resource Library News
"Fascinating, fact and history-filled read that speaks to many of the societal problems we are facing today." Gary Sojka, professor of biology and former president, Bucknell University
"A fascinating history of the role cannibalism has played in the evolution of man." Alan R. Kahn, author, Mind Shapes: Understanding the Differences in Thinking and Communication