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People of the Deer (Death of a People) Paperback – December 21, 2004


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Product Details

  • Series: Death of a People
  • Paperback: 287 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; Reprint edition (December 21, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786714786
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786714780
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,152 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"This is a fascinating and beautiful book."

From the Publisher

"A beautifully written book...Mowat's challenge cannot be ignored."
-Saturday Night --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Owen Hughes on April 3, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
First published in 1947 and available in a wide variety of editions since then, Farley Mowat's first and most distant book is still remarkably readable in the world of the 21st century. It concerns one of the stranger human sagas of the last century, that of the discovery and destruction of a remote Inuit society, the Ihalmiut, in Canada's north. The setting of the book is far enough away in time for us to marvel at how little things have changed since. The contemptuous attitude of European man for the aborigine seems hardly to have altered over the years. We are still hard put to understand the needs of the first peoples and how to answer them.
Farley Mowat has combined a fine sensitivity for the natural environment with a sharp eye for the details of man's place within it. It must be exceedingly rare in the history of anthropology that such an inexperienced investigator has taken such pains to get to the source of his information. Mowat lived among the Ihalmiut for over a year to write the book. During that time he witnessed the rapid deterioration of the small group which remained, and tried to examine the causes of their decline. With very deft prose for such a young writer, he points out the difference between the intentions and the actions of the European discoverers of The People (as they refer to themselves) and the consequences of such disparity. The Ihalmiut were exploited in much the same way as any other tribal band found wandering by the early explorers. However, as Mowat points out, this was an exceptional group which had survived the extreme rigours of a barren land (known to us simply as The Barrens) for so many generations, only to be felled by contact with the very race which might have provided them with so much assistance.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Cera on August 3, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is magic. You will never think about a small band of Indians as statistics again. This book does volumes to make people of our society really feel what goes on in traditional societies. To feel jealous of their solidarity. To feel unloved by our own. It's great! READ IT.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 2, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Farley Mowat tells how the Ihalmiut people of the Arctic have struggled since their first contact with the white man. This is an enduring reminder to us all of how western civilization remains aloof to the plight of races it has exploited. Poignant and powerful, it should be mandatory reading in all schools and colleges.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michael Valdivielso on December 7, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
When published in 1951 this book was a cry for help - not just to help the Ihalmiut but to help ourselves. A well crafted book of one man's understanding, in a limited way, of the hard, harsh life of the Eskimos who live along side the deer, the lakes, and the spirits of the Barrens. The book is full of his memories, some sad, some wonderful. We get images of summer, with its life, the birds, eggs, and kids going out with toy slings to help gather food. We learn about the way the People lived, worked, and loved inside their families and society. We hear their tales of where they came from, how the animals were brought into the world by a woman, and how dangerous it is for men, both to their body and their soul, when they are all alone. Once there were thousands of them - sharing their tools, enjoying the raw meat of the kill, enjoying the happiness of never needing anything.
Wonderful. Depressing. Sad. Lovely. Is there anything we can still do about this? Is there anything we can do for ourselves?
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 23, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In many ways, this is Farley Mowat's most enduring book. It tells the true story of a Native American people killed by modernization--a brutal story that should make us think when we preach human rights and respect for others' cultures--not that our failings preempt us from speaking out, but as an injection of humility. I first read this book 20 years ago and it has stuck with me since them. I'm really sorry that it's out of print because it makes a great gift.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Cowgirl on June 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This first person account was written in the late 40s and published in 1952. The style is closer to Victorian than modern. Each sentence paints an item, and each paragraph completes a landscape. Don't expect Hemingway. But since I grew up reading everything I could find in bookcases inherited from my grandparents, I enjoy Farley Mowat's style.

This was his first book about the People. The story is sad - so sad that the reader must put down the book every now and then to get back to the present. Mowat wrote a follow-up to the story of the People, "The Desperate People", published in 1959. The style fits our modern age better, but the story of the People gets worse.

Be sure to buy and read both.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mick P. on December 30, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you've read any of Farley Mowat's books, this one will excite you as much as any of the others. If you've wondered how Mowat became attached to the Northlands and it's people, People of the Deer will show you how it all began. This book also introduces us to a people that have all but lost their land and their way of life.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By 1000Books on April 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
Before reading this book, I would never have believed it would receive all 5 stars. However, it is truly beautifully written about the death of a people. The author - who lived with the tribe for 2 years to attempt to understand the people from their point of view - did an expert job of recanting what happened, how it happened. He makes a very determined attempt to see things differently than his point of view. My opinion is that he succeeds in doing so.

Though a sociologist, the book is luridly written. It is easy for one to visualize what the writer is experiencing. In modern times, you'd expect such good writing from travel journalist/book writers. Here it is holey unexpected and appreciated.

A wonderful book about the encroachment of modernization and it's mal-effects on an unsuspecting people.

Finally, I always attempt to address the low star ratings in my own reviews. I'm not quite sure why someone would completely hate this book. The middle ratings appear to question the validity of the author's experience. While I am no expert on this topic, I would say that it might not matter if it's true. The message, particularly given it was written in 1947, is well conveyed. If you are an academic and hard-core sociologist, you might have an issue if there is some controversy surrounding the author's sincerity in methodology.
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