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Return to Laughter: An Anthropological Novel (The Natural History Library) Paperback – February 20, 1964


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Return to Laughter: An Anthropological Novel (The Natural History Library) + Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World (Random House Reader's Circle)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; 1st edition (February 20, 1964)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385053126
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385053129
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #335,377 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The first introspective account ever published of what it's like to be a field worker among a primitive people." -- Margaret Mead

From the Publisher

A vivid and dramatic account of the experiences of an American anthropologist who lived with a primitive bush tribe in Africa.

"The first introspective account ever published of what it's like to be a field worker among a primitive people." -- Margaret Mead

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By ocelotn on November 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
A young anthropologist is confronted with a quagmire ethical and moral ambiguity as ideals and unconscious assumptions meet the reality of living within a human community. Witch trials and a smallpox epidemic provide a dramatic context for problems familiar to anyone living among strangers, whether in the next town or the next continent. Along the way, Return to Laughter also serves as an engaging, impressionistic, ethnography. In fact, I'm amazed at how many different layers of book Smith Bowen has squeezed into such a quick read.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By "sjboyd81" on February 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
I read this for a cultural anthropology class last year, 2000. My class had more than 350 students in it and I don't know of anyone who didn't enjoy it. It's not a gripping novel, it's just an excellent source for seeing how an anthropologist works, understanding other cultures, and drawing conclusions about life and the world around you. It is a definite read if you're interested in anthropology or ever thought, "Anthropology? What the heck is that?" This book will tell you all and more. Get it!!
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 29, 1998
Format: Paperback
I first read this book as part of an anthropology course in 1969. Since then I have read it at least once each year. Its insights into human nature and the commonalities found in all cultures are exceptional. It is easy to read and a joy to come back to again and again.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Mary Marston St John on August 25, 2003
Format: Paperback
Although the politically correct and socially aware reader may be inclined to huff and puff a little bit over this anthropological journey through Africa, it is neccessary to take into account the actual year that this book was first written. Aside from a few "dated" remarks, this book provides a tender glimpse into the field work of an anthropologist. I think this a great book for those who travel extensively. It really depicts the frustration and loss of pride that come with trying to adjust to another way of life.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Peter D. Tillman VINE VOICE on May 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a remarkable book, one that I've reread with pleasure & profit
about once/decade since it was published. RETURN TO LAUGHTER was based on the
author's fieldwork in West Africa in the 40's &/or 50's. The most
memorable part is the recounting of people's reaction to a smallpox
("water") epidemic -- required reading for anyone essaying a fictional
plague. It's as powerfully written as the best of Farley Mowat.

Absolutely not to be missed.

Happy reading--

Peter D. Tillman
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ricardo Paredes Salvador on May 13, 2011
Format: Paperback
I had read the short tale "Shakespeare in the bush" in Delaney "Investigating Culture" , and I wanted to read some more of Laura Bohanan ( Elenore Smith Bowen ) , so I got Return to Laughter.

First half of the book wasnt very interesting for me , perhaps since Im spaniard reading in english I dont catch very well the sense , but I had the sensation the author was wandering around her memories, in the second half , I tought the writer found what she wanted to tell , and then got a force "In Crescendo" that makes the book worth enough for me.

I think maybe the novel got his force when Smith Bowen make the decission of put in more of the true feelings of her intenal fight between reason and emotions when you get involved with an absolutely different culture, living within them , Its like the Eisenberg principle reversed : the observed change the observer.
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