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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SURRENDER YOURSELF INTO ITS MAGIC
I first read The Forest People when I was in college. I took an anthropology course, and I was absolutely enchanted by this book.
First of all, do not fear that this book is written by an anthropologist using dry and boring langauge and tried everything to stay objective thus being an impassion observer. This is not a book filled with statistics and boring...
Published on September 29, 2000 by Kendrik Lau

versus
62 of 65 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Check the Publisher carefully before you buy the printed version of "The Forest People."
"The Forest People" is a very interesting book. Perhaps unfortunately in some cases (such as this), Amazon associates reviews of a book with different versions of the same book from different publishers. Unfortunately for us customers, Amazon is seeing a growing plague of new Print-On-Demand Publishers who are specialising in reprinting copyright-expired books. Such as...
Published on September 16, 2010 by Kiwi


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62 of 65 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Check the Publisher carefully before you buy the printed version of "The Forest People.", September 16, 2010
"The Forest People" is a very interesting book. Perhaps unfortunately in some cases (such as this), Amazon associates reviews of a book with different versions of the same book from different publishers. Unfortunately for us customers, Amazon is seeing a growing plague of new Print-On-Demand Publishers who are specialising in reprinting copyright-expired books. Such as "The Forest People." Some of these publishers produce quite good quality books, some do not.

A classic example of the "not good quality" is the imprint of "The Forest People" published by General Books LLC. A previous reviewer commented that the version he bought was unreadable. At a guess, the previous reviewer was unfortunate enough to buy the edition published by General Books LLC. Why unfortunate?

Well, the version published by General Books LLC is scanned in using OCR technology (and using pretty poor quality OCR scanning equipment and software from the look of their books), is overall of very poor print quality, automated reproduction with no index, no illustrations and an excessive number of typos.

To quote a few specifics from the publishers web site:
"We created your book using OCR software that includes an automated spell check. Our OCR software is 99 percent accurate if the book is in good condition. However, with up to 3,500 characters per page, even one percent can be an annoying number of typos....

After we re-typeset and designed your book, the page numbers change so the old index and table of contents no longer work. Therefore, we usually remove them. Since many of our books only sell a couple of copies, manually creating a new index and table of contents could add more than a hundred dollars to the cover price....

Our OCR software can't distinguish between an illustration and a smudge or library stamp so it ignores everything except type. We would really like to manually scan and add the illustrations. But many of our books only sell a couple of copies....

We created your book using a robot who turned and photographed each page. Our robot is 99 percent accurate. But sometimes two pages stick together. And sometimes a page may even be missing from our copy of the book. We would really like to manually scan each page and buy multiple copies of each original. But many of our books only sell a couple of copies....."

General Books LLC are flooding Amazon with these low quality publications (450,000+ listed under General Books LLC) and, unfortunately, many of them have the reviews associated with the original or with better quality imprints associated with them. The product description is totally misleading for the buyer that's not aware of this publisher. Also, if you do the "Look Inside" thing and check, you will see that the version displayed is actually another publishers edition and in fact is nothing like the General Books LLC version (which is rubbish, believe me). IMHO this is unethical marketing.

A general rule of thumb for these Print on Demand publishers is to take a look at the cover - if it's a good quality illustration that reflects the content, there's a table of contents, and when you do the Look Inside thing there's no disclaimer saying you're looking at another book, and they've used facsimile reproduction technology (rather than OCR), it's usually a pretty safe bet. Conversely, if any of these are missing, you're taking a chance on the quality. I've bought a few based on my selection criteria above and they've been good quality. General Books LLC however, is a publisher to steer clear of at all costs.

If you have been unfortunate enough to buy the General Books LLC version by mistake, you can return to Amazon for a full refund (but check Amazon's return policy and process first).
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SURRENDER YOURSELF INTO ITS MAGIC, September 29, 2000
By 
This review is from: The Forest People (Paperback)
I first read The Forest People when I was in college. I took an anthropology course, and I was absolutely enchanted by this book.
First of all, do not fear that this book is written by an anthropologist using dry and boring langauge and tried everything to stay objective thus being an impassion observer. This is not a book filled with statistics and boring observations and theories.
No, Turnbull described the life of the Mbuti pygmies with such color, exuberance, detail and a healthy dash of humour that you cannot help but just being entranced by this book. You will learn of their daily lives, their hissy fits with each other, their methods of punishment, their relationship with the "negro" villagers whom they think are animals because they do not understand the forest. You will see their marriage rites, the rituals of the Molimo and the celebration of the Elima, when young pygmy girls are first "blessed" by menstrual blood.
You will see the pygmies as individuals each with his or her own personality....Kenge the author's best friend, Moke an elderly and respected member of the Mbuti, Cephu the "bad hunter", beautiful Kidaya of the elima, who , Kondabate the pygmy belle who filed her teeth like a shark's, flirtatious Akidinimba with her infamously huge bosoms, "ugly" Aberi, Kamaikan, Kelemoke and even Amina, the daughter of a sub-chief from a nearby village. You will get to know them and feel as if you have known them all your lives.
The Forest People is one of the best books EVER written on anthropology. You can't help but think about how life, as simple as it seems for the pyymies, is still fill with both joy and tribulations. I have read this book many times and every time it still have not lost its magic on me.
This book was written in the 1960s. Turnbull have since passed away. I cannot help but think about what happaned to all these wonderful people we meet in the book today. Did Kenge have any children since? Did Kondabate ever had a child? Did Akidinimba stayed married?
I just wish that there's a sequel to this wonderful book.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The story is awesome, but the printing was horrible., June 12, 2010
By 
Lee Lloyd (Chester, VT United States) - See all my reviews
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Shame on the publisher.

I bought this book for an anthropology course. The words were jumbled and out of order and made very little sense. Chapter headings and footnotes were mixed in with the text. I had to borrow the book from a library because my copy was so unreadable. The story itself is amazing; I loved it. But to sell a book that is printed like that...it is inexcusable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Forest People, August 19, 2005
This review is from: The Forest People (Paperback)
This is an account first published in 1961, of a year (1956) spent by the author, anthropologist Colin Turnbull, among a clan of pygmies of the Ituri Forest in northwestern Belgian Congo (later Zaire, now DR of Congo).

I found it a fascinating read. It's fashionable, and all too easy, to pooh-pooh the work of anthropologists living amongst primitive tribes, but the author's done something that none of us have, and for that, and for the obvious love and respect that he felt for the pygmies with whom he lived, the work is worthy of respect.

What stands out most, for me, in the account is the essential common humanity of the pygmies. In their petty jealousies, rivalries, flirtations - in their practical joking, on each other and on the African villagers who view them as property, as much as the romanticised, spiritual world of the forest, I saw "us" reflected clearly.

Some of the aspects that will stay with me:

- The double-edged relationship with the African negro "villagers", for whom the pygmies are a kind of property - one that supplies them with a less than reliable source of meat, honey and other forest foods, and occasionally labour - and who compel the pygmies to observe their initiation, marriage and funeral rites. The pygmies on the other hand receive some food from the villagers' plots, and steal more without compunction, and disappear into the forest for months when the whim takes them.

- The spiritual forest rites, especially the men's kumamolimo, with its mysterious voice of the forest the molimo. Actually an instrument like an Australian aboriginal didgeridoo, normally made from a hollowed out tree. Turnbull is "put out" by the sacrilege of his clan using a 15-foot metal pipe for this purpose, which they proceed to demonstrate at first by blowing a "long, raucous rasberry", but is told quite firmly "What does it matter what a molimo is made of? This one makes a great sound, and besides, it does not rot like wood."

- The author explained that the first Turnbull was a borderland Scot who turned the head of a charging bull and saved the King - so the pygmies named him Eba-mu-nyama - literally, "His father killed an animal".

- A well-meaning European's attempts to convince some pygmy clans to settle and farm cleared land on the edge of the forest - where they died at a high rate from exposure to the sun.

- The tears of a mother when Turnbull showed her daughter, crippled by hip dysplasia, how to walk using crutches.

All in all a fascinating account of a world that was then, and still is under threat. I've written this in the present tense - hopefully that's not entirely in vain.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good story with a few flaws, October 14, 2003
This review is from: The Forest People (Paperback)
I really liked this book. I had to read it for class, but i would recomend it to anyone. It was quick and easy to read. It was a good and sympathetic portrayal of these hunter gatherer peoples and it left me with a lot of respect for them and for the author.
There were only a couple of little things I would have changed about the book. I felt like a little too much had been edited out in some spots and the author was a little over sentamental at times. For my purposes i would have liked a little more of a scientific approach to some things, but it does make a very good story overall.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A review on The Forest People by Colin Turnbull., January 25, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Forest People (Hardcover)
Colin Turnbull, the late English born Anthropologist and writer was the first to be able to study the pygmies of Africa first hand. The first to be accepted and befriended by these mysterious and beautiful people of the African Congo. In The Forest People Turnbull recalls his experience of living hidden within the forest with a family group of pygmies. He tells us the wearisome struggle that the pygmies battle for to protect thier culture and home. Turnbull also looks deeply into thier way of life and uncovers for us a world of playfullness and enchanting spiritualism. He teaches us the vital part that the rainforest itself plays in the pygmy's existance and also the holiness of all nature. This book was a delight to read and opened my eyes to the pure world that we live on but that is rarely seen.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A New World For The Reader, March 4, 2001
This review is from: The Forest People (Paperback)
I enjoyed reading this book from beginning to end. I really didn't want to put the book down. Before I read this book, I never heard of the Bambuti people or of the Ituri forest. I really felt as if I was living with them while reading the book. It was surely an eye opener for me. I wonder what has happened to Kenge, Manyalibo, Ausu, etc. It's really amazing how the Bambuti love their forest so much and that's all they need to get by. This book showed a lot of hardships and tragedies but yet the Bambuti people stressed how important their life is, with happiness and joy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Realm of Nature, February 9, 2005
By 
Kara "K" (Colorado, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Forest People (Hardcover)
This was a fantastic book. I had to read it for my Ethnology class and fell in love with the MaButi Pygmies. Turnbull does a great job of explaining the lives of the "forest people." His few years with the Pygmies is portrayed in this book. It is enchanting and amusing. I would recommend it to anyone.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Happiness and Sustainability, February 27, 2012
This review is from: The Forest People (Paperback)
Colin Turnbull's book The Forest People takes us on a fascinating voyage into the world of the Mbuti Pygmies, who live in the Ituri rainforest of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Turnbull (1924-1994) was an anthropologist who spent several years with the Pygmies, beginning in 1951. He came from a wealthy English family, but he found life among the Pygmies to be so satisfying that he had to resist strong urges to remain with them.

Instead of using the standard scholarly format for anthropology books, Turnbull described these people in a series of stories. These stories included descriptions of the important cultural components of the Pygmy way of life, and introduced us to the personalities of various individuals in the band.

They were hunter-gatherers, and they enjoyed an exceedingly low tech way of life in their tropical rainforest home. They had little need for clothing, blankets, or warm shelters. They hunted with nets, spears, and bows and arrows. They did not garden or herd animals. Consequently, they had an abundance of leisure time. They loved singing, dancing, storytelling, and visiting kinfolk. They would laugh until they were too weak to stand, then sit down and laugh.

In 2500 BC, Egyptian explorers discovered the Pygmies. Their report to the Pharaoh described "a people of the trees, a tiny people who sing and dance to their god, a dance such as had never been seen before." When Turnbull arrived 4,500 years later, he found a similar scenario. They had a way of life that worked, and it was quite enjoyable. Yes, daily life included normal personality conflicts, but their society did not suffer from chiefs, priests, thieves, chauvinists, inequality, or individualism.

The hunting way of life required cooperation, so the Pygmies were highly skilled at conflict resolution. One of their proverbs proclaimed that "a noisy camp is a hungry camp." Disputes promptly led to active discussion by the group. Shunning and ridicule were common tools, and annoying offenders were sometimes beaten.

Everything about the forest was sacred to the Pygmies. "They were a people who had found in the forest something that made their life more than just worth living, something that made it, with all its hardships and problems and tragedies, a wonderful thing full of joy and happiness and free of care."

In another book, Turnbull mentioned Father Longo, a Catholic missionary who refused to preach to the Pygmies, because they had no word for evil. "In order to convert them, then, he would first have to teach them the concept of evil, and that he was not prepared to do."

Moke, a wise elder, said: "The forest is a father and mother to us, and like a father or mother it gives us everything we need -- food, clothing, shelter, warmth, and affection. Normally everything goes well, because the forest is good to its children, but when things go wrong, there must be a reason."

Alas, sometimes the forest fell asleep, and failed to take care of the Pygmies, leading to illness, death, or bad hunting. Army ants might move in, or a leopard might snatch a child. When these problems occurred, the Pygmies would sing to the forest, to wake it up and make it happy. They sometimes performed the molimo ceremony, during which animal noises were made using a long hollow wooden instrument.

And when the forest was happy, they would sing and dance to share their happiness with it. They lived in a heavenly place, in constant direct contact with everything they held to be sacred. They had absolute reverence for the forest, their ancient home, and they were some of its many children.

The Pygmies enjoyed at least 4,500 years of relative stability, and this was made possible by their primitive technology. If they had become farmers or herders, their journey would have been far more destructive and turbulent. They would have seriously damaged themselves and their sacred forest.

Change has been increasing in Pygmy country, requiring them to adjust the way they live. Maybe 400 years ago, Bantu people moved into the forest and began slash-and-burn farming. They had been herders from the grasslands of East Africa, but they were driven off their home by other tribes. Their cattle died in the jungle, so they traded food with the Pygmies for meat.

In the 1880's, the Congo became a colony of Belgium. Since then efforts have been made to "liberate" the unfortunate Pygmies and convert them into hard-working tax-paying farmers. This plan has not enjoyed great success. At one farm, 29 Pygmies died of sunstroke in a single day. They thrive in the cool shade of their ancient forest, and they harbor an intense hatred of miserable backbreaking field work -- what could be more idiotic?

In the twentieth century, the Ituri has been ravaged by road-builders, loggers, miners, ivory poachers, bushmeat hunters, missionaries, and a bloody parade of trigger-happy rebels, terrorists, goon squads, psychopaths, and freedom fighters. There have been numerous armed conflicts. The Second Congo War began in 1998, and resulted in 5.4 million deaths, mostly from disease and starvation. Many displaced people were driven into the Ituri Forest. Pygmies were hunted down and eaten like game animals.

Much deforestation has been caused by the continuous expansion of slash-and-burn farming. Jungle soils are rapidly depleted by agriculture, and the Congo's birthrate is one of the world's highest. Almost half of the population is younger than 15.

When The Forest People was published, it soon became popular. Turnbull thought that the book had impact "because the near-Utopia described rang true, and showed that certain voids in the lives of many of us could indeed be filled."

Ah yes, the voids in our lives. How often do we sing and dance to keep our forest happy? Turnbull has given us a precious gift -- a taste of what a healthy and joyful life could be like, living in harmony with the land, singing and dancing in a balanced ecosystem, century after century after century. His book offers us a brief enchanting escape from our world of madness, and a beautiful vision of what life could be like for our descendants.

Richard Adrian Reese
Author of What Is Sustainable
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enter a life without time, without religion, August 6, 2010
By 
J. Murray (Laguna Hills, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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The Forest People (Touchstone Book)The Forest People

by Colin M. Turnbull

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just finished a wonderful book, Colin Turnbull's The Forest People. Turnbull lived `a while' (pygmies don't measure time with a watch or a calendar) with African pygmies to understand their life, culture, and beliefs. As he relays events of his visit, he doesn't lecture, or present the material as an ethnography. It's more like a biography of a tribe. As such, I get to wander through their lives, see what they do, how they do it, what's important to them, without any judgment or conclusions other than my own.

One point that became clear early on is that pygmies have no leaders. How can that be, you might ask? Doesn't somehow just assume that mantle? Well, until I read this book, I would have agreed whole-heartedly, but that doesn't seem to happen. A tribe member might demand everyone go hunting with him (it takes a large group to capture/kill the forest animals) and people may go, or they may not. Whatever they feel like. When they move to a new camp, houses and furniture must be built. People may start full of energy and ambition, promising to help neighbors and build big houses with multiple rooms. And then the builders dwindle away as some other adventure grabs their attention. They might finish, maybe not. Often, they'll use some of their neighbor's roof leaves, or even his house until their own house is built.

Most surprisingly, I have yet to discover if they have a belief in a god. They don't pray for help, for food or safety, for anything. If life doesn't seem quite right, the closest they get to wishing it was better is to return to the forest where life is always good, to a camp surrounded by the depths of the jungle, where outsiders are afraid to go. But the forest isn't their god, it's merely where life is always good.

Hmmm. I have to ponder this...
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The Forest People
The Forest People by Colin M. Turnbull (Paperback - July 2, 1987)
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