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Spirit of the Rainforest: A Yanomamo Shaman's Story Paperback – June, 1996

4.6 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews

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Paperback, June, 1996
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 271 pages
  • Publisher: Island Lake Pr (June 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0964695219
  • ISBN-13: 978-0964695214
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,789,211 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I received this book in the mail one day earlier this month, and finished it by about the same time the next day -- despite the fact that I had three 90 minute college classes to teach, and needed to prepare for a trip to Taiwan. It was that good, and that aweful.
I had devoured a good chunk of the book by the time I turned on my computer and learned the terrible news from New York. I kept reading; there seemed to be a connection. The book is an absolutely mind-blower of a story, but if we were to translate the events it describes into a thesis, one sub-point of that thesis would be: "Mass murder and sincere spirituality are not mutually exclusive, by any means." As Ritchie put it, "(Ex-shaman and Yamomamo Indian Shoefoot) has no problem understanding the Columbine High School massacre or any other killing spree. The spirits of anger and hatred that own and drive a person are spirits he has known personally." It occured to me that we have the same choice as confronts the "converted" village in this book: to seek justice with mercy and caution, and danger to ourselves, or to pass on forgiveness and descend to the level of our enemies. While in Taiwan, I was asked to speak about the relationship between Christianity and Islam, and found myself wishing I'd brought the book along. Jungleman puts so many things so well.
This is not a book you want to read your children to sleep by. It might not even work for your church (still less, coven) book-of-the-month club. Besides being full of violence, its message will be a challenge to skeptics and those who are attracted to the occult. But anyone who is untouched by it, by the pain, beauty, pathos, irony, and danger of being human that it reveals, of living in a spiritual jungle as responsible beings, must have a heart of stone.
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Format: Paperback
The 16,000 Yanomamo people are depicted as the most primitive, most violent, and most famous tribal society in the Amazon. Popularized by the most widely read book in the history of anthropology (*Yanomamo: The Fierce People*, by Napoleon Chagnon), these people are today suffering excruciating problems from gold miners and newly introduced diseases. Major debates have raged among anthropologists, and between anthropologists and missionaries, for 20 years over the "truth" of the Yanomamo culture. Do they live a wonderful life in a beautiful rain-forest Eden, as Chagnon implies in his 1992 book, *The Last Days of Eden*, or do they live in fear and misery as some missionaries say?
Perhaps we should ask that question to the Yanomamo themselves, rather than to the anthropologists or the missionaries. Who does speak for the Yanomamo, anyway? Here, for the first time, author Mark Richie allows the Yanomamo to speak for themselves to us. This is truly "a Yanomamo shaman's story," as the book's subtitle says. It is the autobiography of a Yanomamo shaman-chief named Jungleman. He, at least, is weary of his violent society, and fed-up with the anthropologists, too.
Anyone who thinks the Yanomamo culture is idyllic must be a male: The women live in chronic danger of gang-rapes, savage beatings by their husbands, and kidnapping. And men suffer one of the highest homicide rates in the world from the frequent raiding between villages. If you think it's a romantic way of life, why don't you try it?
Non-specialists in Amazonian anthropology may be skeptical of Jungleman's descriptions of the sexual customs of a European anthropologist who the Yanomamo call "Ass Handler." A.H.
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Format: Paperback
My first contact with an indigenous people group was in Viet Nam. Our unit came in contact with a group of Montagnards who were angry that we had destroyed part of their garden. All of these men had crossbows and they were ready to do battle. They did not seem overly concerned about the fact that we had automatic weapons. These were brave men protecting their territory. We backed down and compensated them for the damage. I was in Viet Nam for one year. I lived for 6 years in Haiti and 4 years in Ecuador. During those times I had the opportunity to observe and interact with a number of different people groups. I have come to understand that we are all basically the same. We can be violent people, and we can be caring people. I appreciate Ritchie's book because I can relate to many of the emotions felt by the Yanomamo but especially the fear. All warriors know that they could become a casualty, and do whatever they can to prevent themselves from becoming one. All warriors know fear too. No matter how much they try to hide that fear, it is there. I am grateful for Ritchie's book because jungleman talks about that fear and how it can take away the joys of life. This book is real. It talks about a people who are not happy living a life of fear. I am grateful for people like Ritchie who are not intimidated by those who foolishly think that the rainforest is an Eden, and that the Yanomamo are content in their present situation.
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Format: Paperback
I have a Bachelor's Degree in Anthropology, and when I started my courses I was told that the whole purpose of Anthropology was, essentially to "better understand humanity in order better help it." This is a noble intent, but I fail to see how it works. I don't think people can be touched on a personal level by faceless names and organizations. I DO think they can be touched by other caring people spending time with them, living with them, and working with them. Not living amonst them, and writing about them. This book is one of the best anthropological studies I have read simply because it was written in the best interest of those being written about. Thank you Mark for having the insight to know how to write truthfully and honestly.
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