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Handbook of the Indians of California, with 419 Illustrations and 40 Maps (Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin No. 78) Paperback – February 1, 2012

4.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

A. L. Kroeber (1876-1960) was professor of anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley and director of what is now called the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology. He was best known for making connections between the field of archaeology and culture and is credited with developing the concepts of culture area, cultural configuration, and cultural fatigue. He is the author of numerous books including "The Religion of the Indians of California" and "Indian Myths of South Central California".
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1120 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; Reprint edition (February 29, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486233685
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486233680
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 2.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #592,666 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By magellan HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 1, 2002
Format: Paperback
California has the most culturally diverse Indian ethnography of any U.S. state. Since California habitats range from coastal near- rainforest to dry desert, the Indians have developed a wide range of cultural and technological innovations to deal with it. The linguistic relations are also complex and diverse, a particular interest of mine, and I thought Kroeber did a fine job of discussing this, too. Altogether, Kroeber spent 17 years compiling and writing this great work, and it shows.

Some of the tribes understandably receive more coverage than others, because little was known about them at the time. For example, the Wappo and Washo Indians only have four and half pages each in the book, but the Yokuts section has 70 pages, but this is understandable given the original publication date of 1925 by the U.S. Government Printing Office. Since then, our knowledge of many of the tribes has become significantly greater, or at least less sketchy, but you'll have to consult other sources for that.

One notable thing about the book is the photos of various individuals, most of which could probably not be obtained today--such as the picture of the "Karok man in warrior custume in rod armor and helmut," or the "Hupa (man) measuring dentalium money against tattoos on his forearm," two truly quite striking photographic portrayals.

Despite its deficiencies (which are still modest considering how old it is), this still ranks as the best compendium of knowledge about California Indians, and one of the greatest ethnographies ever written.

On a personal note, I thought I'd mention I had Kroeber's son, Ted, as my psychological statistics professor at San Francisco State back in the mid-70's.
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Format: Paperback
Alfred Kroeber deserves admiration as one of those men who ensured that our knowledge of Native American peoples would not be lost. He is perhaps best known as the friend of Ishi and, sometimes, for his concept of "culture" as "superorganic", but it is this work that I feel is his most lasting contribution.
Though some of the information has been corrected by subsequent researchers (checking Kroeber's work against more recent publications is reasonable), the Handbook remains useful to anyone who wants an overview or details about the numerous peoples who inhabited the state before the coming of the Spanish in 1769.
Where Kroeber is sketchiest is, of course, where the peoples had been exterminated before his investigations began shortly after the turn of the century. His work on the Yokuts and the Mojave, on the other hand, is extensive and helps us to understand some of the culture of their now missing neighbors. He has left no people unaccounted for. Thanks to this volume, interest in the California Indians has been stimulated for all time and with that interest has come a desire to preserve.
All California history lovers and anthropologists need this book on their shelves.
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By A Customer on December 27, 1997
Format: Hardcover
The content of this book is EXCELLENT. However, the "hardcover" version is just a hard cover slapped on OVER the paperback--not worth the extra $100+.
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I've coveted this book since I was a student in the 1960's. Kroeber's handbook is the definitive reference for scholars and anyone interested in the original people of California. Since I'm a member of a small band of Indians discussed in these pages, I especially treasure Kroeber's records of our lost past. I learned also that my great-grandmother's last name is actually the name of her clan! There are so few documents that record factual information as well as oral history, Kroeber's book serves as a starting point for further research. I hope anyone hoping to learn more about how our ancestors lived can use this book.
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Certainly a tough slog if you're going to read it from cover to cover, Kroeber's Handbook of The Indians of California is still relevant nearly 100 years after its initial release by the Smithsonian. I'd enjoy reading this book, but I'm glad I finally did. No other single volume will give a similar overview of pre contact California civilization.
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Great book! Has a very expansive knowledge base and is a favorite of mine already. Great read for anyone interested in California's aboriginal people!
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Very informative
Would have liked more pictures to see how they lived
Would recommend as it is so informative by The famous Kroeber
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