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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Great book! Good price!
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on May 27, 2015
A fine book those interested in the culture and those interested in study of language and culture.
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on February 4, 2009
I bought this book for an Anthropology class. The syntax is complex and sometimes difficult to understand, but for the subject matter, it's a great buy.
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on March 27, 2000
Author Keith Basso has compiled seven essays over a span of twenty-five years to create a thourough and interpretive look at importance of symbol in Western Apache language and culture. Through his study of Native American language, he adresses several topics including the influencial nature of metaphor and placenames, and the use of silence for the Western Apache.
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on February 13, 2012
The writer makes some very interesting observations, and introduces a very interesting culture unknown to me with some success. The book is remarkably void of any recognition of the writer's own perceptive limitations based on the same concept of situated knowledge he uses to critique other scientists. Each chapter begins with a quote from a famous philosopher or one of the writer's teachers as a way to enter the presumably Western reader into the world of the Western Apache. These transitions are clumsy at best, and arguably totally ineffective. Typically, the writer's interpretation of these quotes is dubious.

The writer claims to intend the book for lay people, but then proceeds to use so many difficult words, sometimes inaccurately, that the reader is left feeling isolated and pushed away. I know several people who experienced this difficulty. Worst, many of the "complicated" ideas about self, and being, etc. are really much better and clearly articulated in a straightforward and simple manner rather than the verbose and affected writing style of a pseudo intellectual. Perhaps Mr. Basso is a very accomplished man, I do not know, but I found his writing style pretentious and unnecessarily complicated.

That said, Mr. Basso does makes some very powerful observations about the tribe he studies. It is a shame that these observations are cluttered by the studied and overly intellectualized writing style, and his strange penchant to insert himself into his narrative including telling the reader that a particular Indian woman was "proud" or "handsome", and a particular man "was a good friend." What do we care? What does it add to the story? In fact, the writer's insertion into the narrative is distracting and opens Mr. Basso up to obvious personal criticism. In short, this book should have been merely an extraordinary essay without the verbosity and lofty words, without the trite philosophy lessons, and without the personal observations. Finally, there are too many occasions that the Mr. Basso looks at the culture without a critical eye, or even an objective eye, and he falls into romanticizing and over-identification which are both off-putting and lead me to believe he is more of an advocate rather than a scientist. Further calling his objectivity, or as he might suggest, his subjective objectivity into question, Mr. Basso reveals that he provided analysis for the tribe in a legal dispute on behalf of the tribe.
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