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The Emperor's Giraffe And Other Stories Of Cultures In Contact Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (March 25, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081333585X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813335858
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,381,890 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With a light touch that belies the depth of vision behind this delightful collection of essays, Wilson (Hispaniola) trains his anthropological spyglass on the point of contact where cultures converge or collide. Ranging across the Americas, Europe and the Caribbean from Columbuss time to the present, this associate professor at the University of Texas offers short reflections on such diverse topics as Viking misadventures among the Eskimos, French castles in the shadow of EuroDisney, a Jewish cemetery in the West Indies and the copacetic relationship between a conquistador and a Taino chieftan. In an essay on the impact of colonialism on the gardens of the Italian Renaissance, Wilson notes the early hybrid roses sprinkled around the background of Botticellis The Birth of Venus. From his discussion of the diplomatic ties that brought giraffes from Africa to Asia centuries prior to European colonialization to the ironic connection between the Opium Wars and todays War on Drugs, the author provides a mix of fresh details and original insights. Although some of the essays are too brief, Wilson is an able guide to some amusing near-misses in history, as well as to the poignant aftermath of culture clashes that we still live with today. The annotated table of contents and suggested reading lists at each chapters end are an added boon. Maps, illustrations included.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Cultural contact and interaction are key concepts in anthropology. Wilson (anthropology, Univ. of Texas, Austin) provides a good introduction to these concepts, subdividing his book into five major sections, each comprising a series of short chapters illustrating the major topics. These include Columbus, the interaction of various Native American groups with European groups, the influence of introduced European diseases, Asian interactions with the European world, and the Caribbean region. The book closes with a series of chapters that orient the reader toward the wonder of cultural distinctions throughout the world. Impressive in the geographic and temporal breadth of its examples, this book is also noteworthy for emphasizing that cultural contextAoften cast in a negative light by researchersAhas also produced cultural richness worldwide. Highly recommended for introductory courses in cultural and general anthropology, this text may also have applications in international business, politics, and finance.AJohn E. Dockall, Bernice P. Bishop Museum, Honolulu
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful, well written collection of essays on historical cultural contacts. I particularly enjoyed Wilson's essays on Native American retribution ... Wilson offers a balanced discourse on the tension between archaeologists and Native Americans. Highly recommended!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Joe E. Richardson III on July 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
When I picked up The Emperor's Giraffe, I was hoping for more stories like the title, and less of the fairly well-covered territory of encounters of Europeans and Native Americans. Notable absences are of interactions with Africans, and the final essay, on trickster stories, seems out-of-place and woefully inadequate.

So, as a light introduction to first encounters of cultures, this is a good place to start. But if you're looking for something more in depth or intellectually challenging, look elsewhere.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is a collection of 23 short essays Wilson wrote for Natural History, under the theme of "early contact"--mostly between Europe and the Americas. Almost every piece is interesting in one way or another, although the few that challenge popular myths stand out as exceptional: one about the "real" Christopher Columbus, and another about the origins of Thanksgiving. The emphasis is on Wilson's own area of the specialization (the Caribbean and Latin America) so your own enjoyment may depend on your level of interest in that region. The most interesting of these to me was a piece about the history of Jewish culture in the Caribbean. The book would make a good, bite-sized companion to Jared Diamond's outstanding work, Guns, Germs, and Steel.
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