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Under the Mountain Wall: A Chronicle of Two Seasons in Stone Age New Guinea Paperback – January 6, 1987


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Under the Mountain Wall: A Chronicle of Two Seasons in Stone Age New Guinea + Cloud Forest: A Chronicle of the South American Wilderness (Classic, Nature, Penguin) + The Snow Leopard (Penguin Classics)
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Product Details

  • Series: Classic, Nature, Penguin
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (January 6, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140252703
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140252705
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 4.9 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #157,024 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Peter Matthiessen was the cofounder of the Paris Review and is the author of numerous works of nonfiction, including In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, Indian Country, and The Snow Leopard, winner of the National Book Award.


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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Old Dragon on March 20, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book was the 2nd Peter Mathiessen book I read (after reading his superb "Sand Rivers") and it's images have stuck with me ever since. Those first two books of his that I read made me a fan of this author's works and I still am after more than a dozen more books.

What Mathiessen provides in this tome is a two year look at a vanishing society. Much to his dismay, but to Christianity's delight, the missionaries were on their way to the locale of his book at the time he was leaving New Guinea. "Under the Garden Wall" provides photographs and livid descriptions of this so-called "Stone Age" society. The author has saved this society in perpetuity by this book.

The descriptions were honest, not lurid or sensational. He described the way the people lived without embellishment. It is a good read because Matthiessen was and is a superb wordsmith, the author cared about these people and their ways were foreign but their motiviations familiar.

Any student of sociology, anthropology and/or history is aware of the driving force of sex, and the tendencies toward violence, in all societies. To the extent these were present amoung the subjects of his study, he reported on them.

Ritual mutilation is one of the most offensive subjects covered, but, again, any student of the aforementioned three disciplines is aware of various and sundry forms of ritual mutilation practiced by many peoples presently, historically and pre-historically. On this offensive custom Matthieson reports objectively.

One of the beauties of this particular book is that Mathiessen, who has a tendency to push his personal beliefs, strays from the objective only in his handling of the coming of the Christian missionaries.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By AB Album on January 17, 2008
Format: Paperback
I'd advise people not to be put off by the 1 star review. I enjoyed this book immensly, though it is not as good as "Snow Leopard" or "...Fields of the Lord".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hummingbird Mother on May 2, 2014
Format: Paperback
I recommend all the nature topics by this great writer. He is a keen observer of detail and has a way of putting it to paper so that I feel that I am along on the adventure with him.
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10 of 18 people found the following review helpful By George C. J. Fleck II on November 9, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of Peter Matthiesen's early books in which he chose to write as an unseen and unmentioned observer, which does not work for me. The book is not for the faint of heart as barbaric practices; mutilation, rape, murder are described in graphic detail. That said, the book is a gold mine of New Guineans ancient tribal practices and would be interesting reading for anthropologists. One of a series of Penguin Nature books, the publishers should be ashamed of the photographs reproduced in the book. They look like sixth generation photocopies, are murky and make it impossible to see any detail. Mr. Matthiesen deserves better. As a fan of Peter Matthiesen (The Snow Leopard is a superb book) it seems to me that this book was written before he developed his mature style,
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