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on August 24, 1999
It is unusual for an anthropologist to be able to write jargon-free English, and to do so in a way that is accessible and interesting to a general reader. Chagnon accomplishes this and more in this fascinating account of his experiences among the Yanomamo tribe in Venezuela over a 30-year period. Chagnon comes across as somebody who cares deeply about the Yanomamo, but who will not permit that passion to affect his anthropological analyses. He therefore does not shrink from drawing conclusions about Yanonamo culture that might offend those who would romanticize them. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anybody who has an interest in tribal culture. It is probably the best book of its kind for the non-specialist that I have ever read.
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on October 15, 2013
After reading Kennith Good's very personal book about life among the Yanomamo, I admit that I had certain preconceptions about his one time former dissertation adviser Napoleon Chagnon and his portrayal as being "fierce." After reading this book, I see that much of Chagnon's characterization of the Yanomamo has been twisted by others -- including Ken Good. This is not to say that Chagnon doesn't bear a significant degree of culpability for what has happened to the Yanomamo since "first contact" in the 1960's. His personal culpability, is missed by Chagnon, however. The last chapter of this book points fingers at Catholic and Protestant missionaries who have created dependent peasants out of the once "wild" Yanomamo. It describes how Brazilian gold miners have poisoned their rivers with mercury and killed those who got in their way. It also describes how various interest groups use the Yanomamo for their own publicity purposes and how all these groups try to groom Yanomamo "leaders" to their own benefit. But what he misses is that he was one of the first to make contact and his entry led to others following. Anthropologists may have an ideal of being objective observers, but their presence there changes things. Chagnon, for instance, traded machetes, axes, and aluminum pots for genealogical information. These valuable trade goods changed the power relationships in the villages. Aluminum pots started replacing clay pots. Later shotguns from missionaries further changed the power structures. While Chagnon sees the danger of the missionaries giving the Yanomamo shotguns, he seems to willfully overlook that his own presence among the Yanomamo armed with a shotgun also changed the power structure and provided a reason for the various villages to want to have him live with them.
Romantically, many look to the Yanomamo as living (and now loosing) a lifestyle that all people once shared before the rise of kingdoms, organized religion, and states. Chagnon brings a good deal of reality to off set this romantic idealization. The result is a more accurate, complete, complicated, and nuanced view. But ultimately, there can be no observation without having an influence and the price we pay for knowing about the Yanomamo is that they no longer live in the same culture that they once did. They live in a blended culture--one partially the creation of Chagnon and the anthropologists.
I can see why some new Yanomamo "leaders" would want to keep them out. But these "leaders" also need to be seen in their own context. They too have their selfish motives. No one in this story has clean hands. It is a power play involving grooming, lies, deception, and tricks. And no one, not Chagnon, not the new class of mission trained Yanomamo leaders is clean.
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on June 29, 2014
It turns out that I was at UCSB when Dr. Chagnon was teaching there, and I deeply regret never having met him. [I was a physics student... ya can't meet 'em all.] But this is a fascinating look into a tribal culture by a uniquely well qualified observer, and I highly recommend it.
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on June 9, 2004
My name is Alex Flumenbaum and I'm a freshman at New Roads High School. For my honors World Civilizations class I read the book Yanomamo; The Last Days of Eden by Napoleon A. Chagnon. Reading this book was both an interesting and yet controversial experience. I also learned a lot in reading this book. Between the borders of Brazil and Venezuela lived the tribe of the Yanomamo. They are a very unusual Amazon tribe simply because they are violent and in some peoples eyes, savage. They also tend to isolate themselves from other tribes. But what is interesting about this book is that it shows a completely different side of a tribe that everyone thinks is a savage tribe. It shows how clever the tribe is when it survives on its own without the help of the outside world. In the 1960's Napoleon went to live and study the tribe of the Yanomamo. Despite the fact that he showed people a totally new perspective on this particular tribe, I feel that his view of the tribe is somewhat off. I feel that he, in a way, looked down his nose at the tribe and sort of looked at them as if they were lower and less advanced than he was. This attitude was clear in my mind throughout the book despite the interesting facts the book included. This book talks about the many lifestyles and habits of the Yanomamo. It talks about the methods one would have to use in order to keep the people of tribe from begging. Because they are a very curious people they are constantly begging to try things. One must be firm and never give anything away because once you do; you will constantly have people begging. It also talks about its rituals before a war or raid. If someone died in a previous raid or when their tribe was raided their ashes were kept and then eaten by the deceased's brother, husband, son, or father. They do this to give the raider strength for the raid. Although they are very advanced for hunter gatherers, their perception of women is not very good. There have been several occasions where Yanomamo men have killed their wife with arrows. Despite these flaws the Yanomamo are a very advanced, clever, and actually a very interesting tribe and I learned a lot reading it. It is a very complicated book and what I feel controversial. It is a good book and I definitely recommend this book to read.
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on March 24, 1999
Chagnon's book is one of the most widely read ethnographies of tribal and animistic people. In it you read how Chagnon sees the Yanamamo. If you want to read how the Yanamamo see Chagnon and other 'nabas' read "Spirit of the Rainforest" by Mark Andrew Ritchie. It is written from the perspective of a Yanamamo shaman. You will discover things not covered in Chagnon's work.
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on November 30, 2015
It was a very interesting book, but the author's writing was a bit dry and full of grammatical errors. When talking about the natives, it was most interesting. The technical part was complicated and dry.
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on June 9, 2004
My name is Alex Flumenbaum and I'm a freshman at New Roads High School. For my honors World Civilizations class I read the book Yanomamo; The Last Days of Eden by Napoleon A. Chagnon. Reading this book was both an interesting and yet controversial experience. I also learned a lot in reading this book. Between the borders of Brazil and Venezuela lived the tribe of the Yanomamo. They are a very unusual Amazon tribe simply because they are violent and in some peoples eyes, savage. They also tend to isolate themselves from other tribes. But what is interesting about this book is that it shows a completely different side of a tribe that everyone thinks is a savage tribe. It shows how clever the tribe is when it survives on its own without the help of the outside world. In the 1960's Napoleon went to live and study the tribe of the Yanomamo. Despite the fact that he showed people a totally new perspective on this particular tribe, I feel that his view of the tribe is somewhat off. I feel that he, in a way, looked down his nose at the tribe and sort of looked at them as if they were lower and less advanced than he was. This attitude was clear in my mind throughout the book despite the interesting facts the book included. This book talks about the many lifestyles and habits of the Yanomamo. It talks about the methods one would have to use in order to keep the people of tribe from begging. Because they are a very curious people they are constantly begging to try things. One must be firm and never give anything away because once you do; you will constantly have people begging. It also talks about its rituals before a war or raid. If someone died in a previous raid or when their tribe was raided their ashes were kept and then eaten by the deceased's brother, husband, son, or father. They do this to give the raider strength for the raid. Although they are very advanced for hunter gatherers, their perception of women is not very good. There have been several occasions where Yanomamo men have killed their wife with arrows. Despite these flaws the Yanomamo are a very advanced, clever, and actually a very interesting tribe and I learned a lot reading it. It is a very complicated book and what I feel controversial. It is a good book and I definitely recommend this book to read.
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on February 15, 2016
I read this book in college when I was studying about the lost tribes in the Amazonian Forest. It broke my heart to see how companies have destroyed the pristine​ land.
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on October 9, 2009
I received my order within the time designated in the shipping estimate and the book arrived in good condition as promised in the description. I am very happy with the purchase and would use them again for future purchases.
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on April 15, 2004
The Yanomamo:
My name is Mick Rosenthal; I'm a freshman and go to New Roads High School. I just finished reading a book titled Yanomamo Last Days of Eden by Napoleon Chagnon for Honors History and I learned quite a lot.
The Yanomamo are a tribe of people who live in the jungles of the Amazon basin between the borders of Brazil and Venezuela. They aren't your ordinary type of tribes-people though. No, they aren't kind and nice, but are warlike and have always kept to themselves. The book was an interesting one because it tells of how the Yanomamo are able to fend for themselves and how they are able to live without getting help from the outside world.
Napoleon Chagnon is an anthropologist who went to study the Yanomamo in the early 1960s. He was the first outsider that the Yanomamo had ever seen; now their future is in danger because too many "new people" or foreigners are invading their space and their land. The book was also very interesting because it pertains to what I'm now learning in History Class: a unit on Human Evolution.
Like the Yanomamo, we as early humans were hunter gatherers, living in the jungles or forests, trapping animals and eating fruit from trees. This is interesting, because we are able to observe people living as early humans lived when their brains were evolving.
The Yanomamo fight over women or other things, but mostly over women. If a woman is kidnapped and taken to another tribe, the tribe stages a raid to go get the woman back. There are also alliances between villages, because enemies of the Yanomamo are all around them, so they need to make alliances with other tribes to stay strong. The Yanomamo also demand that if you have taken something of theirs that it gets repaid.
In this society, boys grow up to become warriors and girls grow up to help their mothers; girls in fact are ready to go to work at an earlier age than boys. The Yanomamo eat many things (animal meat, different types of nuts, fruits, etc.), but mostly a plant called plantain, which is a banana-like plant that grows on trees. The Yanomamo also harvest domesticated plants from the gardens that they plant close to their villages.
The Yanomamo aren't like you and me today with our laptops, the internet, cars, guns, palm pilots etc. The Yanomamo are still living in the Stone Age and still use methods and techniques from that period in time.
Let's do a comparison between modern humans and the Yanomamo. For example: Today, we use metal pots to cook with, while the Yanomamo still use clay pots that were used during the Stone Age (but now, since more foreigners are coming into their territory, they have started trading things to the missionaries that are in their part of the world e.g. some plantains for a metal pot, machete or shotgun).
Another example is that we as modern humans wear clothes because society tells us to and we would get in trouble if we showed too much skin. It's different for the Yanomamo: they're a naked people. In other words, they don't wear clothes at all except for a loin cloth over their genitalia. Another thing, is that the women and girls are topless, which is normal for them, whereas the women in our "civilized" society would be arrested if they even showed a breast in public.
For yet another example, modern societies have formal governments that make written laws. The Yanomamo have the freedom of not having a government/hierarchy that is above them and makes the laws, but they do have tribal leaders.
Lastly, we have cars and other motorized transportation to get around: the Yanomamo tribes have to hoof it everywhere they go. They don't get to ride or drive in luxurious air-conditioned Jaguars or Mercedes-Benz. We also have big fantastic weapons that can destroy half the world if they were used against any enemy. The Yanomamo have weapons, but they're the weapons of the primitive times: the old bow and trusty arrow. The Yanomamo, have very little or none of the things that I've listed here. They definitely don't have cars, WMDs or air pollution.
In what way do the Yanomamo explain what we do as "civilized" humans? It seems as if they are saying that we are fighting against our nature. Since they're warlike and we were like the Yanomamo many millions of years ago when our brains were slowly evolving, "civilized" humans are still fighting against their nature.
I do recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning about an Amazon tribe that is still living in the Stone Age, but may be extinct soon because of modern human greed for land to exploit.
Careful, though, if you're a fifteen year-old school student like I am, it's good to use a dictionary. The reason I say this, is because I didn't read a simple book, I read a book that is meant for college students and they are some tough vocabulary words throughout the book.
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