Anasazi America: Seventeen Centuries on the Road from Center Place Paperback – May 1, 2000
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Anasazi America draws a fascinating dichotomy between modern pueblos and modern America, which has failed to learn history s lessons. --American Archaeology
From the Inside Flap
- Lexile measure : 1460
- Item Weight : 15.2 ounces
- Paperback : 264 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0826321798
- ISBN-13 : 978-0826321794
- Dimensions : 5.75 x 0.75 x 8.5 inches
- Publisher : University of New Mexico Press; Third Printing edition (May 1, 2000)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,329,552 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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From there, he doesn't stop. He leads readers into the beginnings of the Pueblo IV era of the ancestral Puebloans and to the dawn of modern Pueblos, and their emergence into Western history.
Stuart is not afraid to draw parallels and point out lessens that modern American inhabitants of the Southwest fail to -- or refuse to -- learn but at their own peril. And I am in total agreement on this part of the book, too, while noting that with nearly a decade since its writing, the rich-poor gap in the U.S. has but expanded, not decreased.
That said, even if you don't agree with his modern sociopolitical analysis, you've got plenty to learn from this book.
And, having grown up in Gallup, N.M., Mr. Stuart has lit fires of nostalgia and more within me.
1) The history is presented in such an objective way, that I wished all history was written in this manner.
2) He presents the information so thoroughly that I never once doubt his authority on the subject.
3) Aside from the presentation of history in Anasazi America, the way he links the history to modern American society is very effective in allowing you to connect the fall of this civilization with some of the warning signs present in our own life.
I just want to add that the description on the function of their religion post-collapse was probably the part that has stuck with me the most, and not for any religious reasons.
Unlike many students of ancient history and culture, this author does not stop with a simple description of the data or the sequence of events. He extrapolates principles relevant to all cultures, including our own. Most authors on the American Southwest make much of the climate changes which made life in the area nearly impossible; Stuart's analysis of this data and of the timing of the furious building activity that occurred toward the end of the phase uses economic principals and modern sociology. This technique makes the period come alive. Stuart points out that all human behavior is motivated, and motivated not just by basic biological needs but by social and cultural needs and expectations as well. Stuart uses evidence of violence, even of possible cannibalism that occurred as a climax to the period to understand the implications of decline, violence and collapse on the evolution or extinction of a society. He also applies what he discovers of human behavior in this setting to what he sees as occurring in our own culture. As middle and lower socio-economic classes feel more and more disenfranchised, modern society is facing a possible withdrawal from its principles and leadership.
Some of Stuart's summary of the succession of cultures in New Mexico and the Four Corner's region are arguably speculative. The assumptions he makes about why people did things-like move away from their homes and property-so long as they relate to such factors as climate, infant and maternal mortality rates, nutrition and malnutrition, etc. seem quite sound. When it comes to less quantifiable issues-like personal values, the sense of community among society's constituency, religious intent, etc,-his observations, while certainly very credible, are also not testable.
With these caveats in mind, the reader will discover through this discourse that our own lifestyle as it is currently practiced, may not be indefinitely sustainable. The US might well be facing a cultural disintegration not unlike that of the Anasazi. If the social statistics in the author's final analysis are correct, and they certainly seem reliable to me, the effects of our rather profligate style of consumerism are already producing negative outcomes for a significant portion of the US population. We may share more in common with the ancient Anasazi than we realize. We may evolve into a more sustainable society as the Pueblo people did, or we may go extinct as the Anasazi people did.
As the author points out in his introduction, the book arose as the result of a very favorably received classroom style that stressed the relationship between economics and social cohesion, using archeology as the medium of introduction. In doing so the professor made his specialty relevant to the lives of his students in a way that inspired them. It inspired me too. Unmentioned by the author is the fact that much of our culture is shared by the world, and while the third world may not be politically incorporated into the US or into the privileged portion of the world, it is definitely part of the globalized culture that has arisen as a result of more rapid communication and transportation. It is not inconceivable that the collapse that Stuart envisions for the US cultural milieu might actually extend to the world. It gives one pause to think.
This book could and probably should be included in the reading lists of courses in economics, cultural anthropology, history, sociology, and political science. It might be useful in high school classes that include any or all of these topics. FOR THOSE WRITING PAPERS: this book shows an intersting use of history, anthropology and archaeology as applied to modern day problems. One might find it profitable to: 1) contest the author's conclusions with your own ideas or with quotes from other authors, 2) agree with his conclusions and say why in your own experience you believe what he says, 3) compair his assumptions with someone more versed specifically in economics or sociology than the author is, 4) check his sources to see if you can find errors in his data or in his use of it or to suggest a different interpretation of the date or a different use of it , 5) write a paper on whether or not you believe that it is valid to use anthropological or historical data in this way.