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Hans Staden's True History: An Account of Cannibal Captivity in Brazil (The Cultures and Practice of Violence) Hardcover – July 16, 2008


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Editorial Reviews

Review

“At long last an English edition of Hans Staden’s account of his captivity among the Tupinambá of mid-sixteenth-century Brazil is available for scholars, teachers, and students. . . . This book, with an extensive introduction written by anthropologist Neil Whitehead and a new English test translated from the German by historian Michael Harbsmeier, is an attractive, accessible, and reliable resource for teaching and research.” - Eve M. Duffy, Hispanic American Historical Review


“In this superb new English translation of his account, Whitehead and Harbsmeier make it possible for a new generation of US students to learn of Staden's travails. A sophisticated essay that places Hans Staden in his proper historical context serves as the introduction to the translation. . . . Highly recommended.” - R. M. Delson, Choice


“The book is a critical edition. . . . The book has become a cornerstone for discussion concerning native practices of cannibalism, but at the same time it is one of the earliest accounts available describing Brazil. Thus Whitehead and Harbsmeier seek to ransom the book from its place in the debate over cannibalism and place it rather within the literature of European contact with the native peoples of the Americas.” - John F. Schwaller, The Americas


“This new translation into English of Hans Staden’s Warhaftige Historia, or True History, originally published in 1557 in Marburg, will fill a gap in the study of both European colonialism and travel literature. . . . Illustrated with plentiful woodcuts and underscored by ethnographic descriptions, Staden’s book is a keystone to the history of colonial Brazil and of Tupi-Guarani societies, as well as to current refashionings of the colonial past. . . . Despite its exceptional quality among early colonial texts, there has not been an English-language version since Malcolm Lett’s edition of 1928. Whitehead’s and Harbsmeier’s accurate transcription and annotated translation of Staden’s first edition remedy this neglect. Moreover, their introductory study not only reconstructs the text’s legacies in a variety of contexts and disciplines, but also demonstrates its persistent appeal for current debates.” - Luciana Villas-Bóas, Colonial Latin American Review


“Whitehead and Harbsmeier have provided a lucid and readable translation that preserves the choppy rhythm and colloquial feel of the original German without sacrificing accessibility. . . . Hans Staden's True History is usefully true and usefully history. . . . Scholars of early modern Germany and of European colonialism, in addition to scholars of Brazil, now have a wonderful text with which to explore these and other issues with their students. With this translation, Whitehead and Harbsmeier have significantly advanced the study of the early modern world.” - Christine R. Johnson, H-German, H-Net Reviews


“I was quite astonished to find out that no version of Hans Staden’s account had been printed in English since 1929. Not only is it the earliest eyewitness narrative of the Tupi peoples written by a European; it deals with the heated and enduring debate about the role of cannibalism in human experience.”—Irene Silverblatt, author of Modern Inquisitions: Peru and the Colonial Origins of the Civilized World


“Neil L. Whitehead’s introduction contextualizes Staden’s account with amazing richness. This is the definitive English edition.”—Mary Louise Pratt, Silver Professor, Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Literatures, New York University


“There is no doubt that this volume has returned Hans Staden’s narrative to its place as a basic text of European expansion and one of the most important accounts of cannibalism. This 1557 text is important for the wealth of its ethnographic observations, taken at first-hand by Staden, and for the narrative structure, which makes it comparable to the journal of Columbus, Raleigh’s Discoveries, or Jean de Léry’s Histoire.”—Stuart Schwartz, George Burton Adams Professor of History, Yale University


“At long last an English edition of Hans Staden’s account of his captivity among the Tupinambá of mid-sixteenth-century Brazil is available for scholars, teachers, and students. . . . This book, with an extensive introduction written by anthropologist Neil Whitehead and a new English test translated from the German by historian Michael Harbsmeier, is an attractive, accessible, and reliable resource for teaching and research.”
(Eve M. Duffy, Hispanic American Historical Review)

“In this superb new English translation of his account, Whitehead and Harbsmeier make it possible for a new generation of US students to learn of Staden's travails. A sophisticated essay that places Hans Staden in his proper historical context serves as the introduction to the translation. . . . Highly recommended.”
(R. M. Delson, Choice)

“The book is a critical edition. . . . The book has become a cornerstone for discussion concerning native practices of cannibalism, but at the same time it is one of the earliest accounts available describing Brazil. Thus Whitehead and Harbsmeier seek to ransom the book from its place in the debate over cannibalism and place it rather within the literature of European contact with the native peoples of the Americas.”
(John F. Schwaller, The Americas)

“This new translation into English of Hans Staden’s Warhaftige Historia, or True History, originally published in 1557 in Marburg, will fill a gap in the study of both European colonialism and travel literature. . . . Illustrated with plentiful woodcuts and underscored by ethnographic descriptions, Staden’s book is a keystone to the history of colonial Brazil and of Tupi-Guarani societies, as well as to current refashionings of the colonial past. . . . Despite its exceptional quality among early colonial texts, there has not been an English-language version since Malcolm Lett’s edition of 1928. Whitehead’s and Harbsmeier’s accurate transcription and annotated translation of Staden’s first edition remedy this neglect. Moreover, their introductory study not only reconstructs the text’s legacies in a variety of contexts and disciplines, but also demonstrates its persistent appeal for current debates.”
(Luciana Villas-Bóas, Colonial Latin American Review)

“Whitehead and Harbsmeier have provided a lucid and readable translation that preserves the choppy rhythm and colloquial feel of the original German without sacrificing accessibility. . . . Hans Staden's True History is usefully true and usefully history. . . . Scholars of early modern Germany and of European colonialism, in addition to scholars of Brazil, now have a wonderful text with which to explore these and other issues with their students. With this translation, Whitehead and Harbsmeier have significantly advanced the study of the early modern world.”
(Christine R. Johnson, H-German, H-Net Reviews)

From the Publisher

"There is no doubt that this volume has returned Hans Staden's narrative to its place as a basic text of European expansion and one of the most important accounts of cannibalism. His 1557 text is important for the wealth of its ethnographic observations, taken at first hand by Staden, and for the narrative structure, which makes it comparable to the journal of Columbus, Raleigh's Discoveries, or Jean de Lery's Histoire."-- Stuart Schwartz, George Burton Adams Professor of History, Yale University

"Neil Whitehead's introduction contextualizes Staden's account with amazing richness. This is the definitive English edition."-- Mary Louise Pratt, Silver Professor of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Literatures, New York University

"I was quite astonished to find out that no version of Hans Staden's account had been printed in English since 1929. Not only is it the earliest eye-witness narrative of the Tupi peoples written by a European; it deals with the heated and enduring debate about the role of cannibalism in human experience."-- Irene Silverblatt, author of Modern Inquisitions: Peru and the Colonial Origins of the Civilized World

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Product Details

  • Series: The Cultures and Practice of Violence
  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (July 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822342138
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822342137
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,164,927 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Real Mensch on March 3, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An extraordinarily detailed account of Hans Staden's captivity by Brazilian cannibals in the early 16th century, complete with reproductions of woodcuts that accompanied the original publication. This edition features a lengthy, informative, and intriguing introduction by Neil L. Whitehead, who places European accounts of cannibal cultures during early exploration of the New World at the forefront of modernist ethnography. He brilliantly exposes ways in which these early ethnographies constructed and highlighted Otherness in the newly discovered American cultures.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John A. Scherting on March 3, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am fascinated by eyewitness accounts of early interactions between Europeans and indigenous peoples residing elsewhere on this earth --- which seems to be losing cultural diversity at an accelerating pace. Having reports such as Hans Staden's is a precious window into one such culture--that of a people who practiced ritual cannibalism in the region of Brarzil now subsumed by Portuguese colonial society-- Rio de Janeiro. The scholarly introduction to Staden's early (16th century) account of his captivity (and how he avoided becoming the main course at a feast) is very informative, but overly long----in my opinion.
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Brandog on May 12, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a great account of a culture that seems so foreign to the modern world. Just the fact that this account ever made it to be published hundreds of years was quite miraculous. I enjoyed the story and the carvings.
The introduction was quite interesting and gave a lot of useful context to the story. However, I lost interest as it wore on (its over a third of the book). Maybe I'm not academic enough.
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