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Customer Review

on October 30, 1999
"Into the Heart" by Kenneth Good with David Chanoff was for me the most inspiring book of this decade and this century. When I began reading it, I could not put it down until I read the last sentence, in the wee hours of the morning.
This book had such an impact on me that I was compelled to read it over and over again. It was THIS BOOK that inspired me to travel to the Amazon in October 1999. I would highly recommend this excellent account of life among stone age people for anyone who has an open mind and wants to learn of aboriginal cultures in South America. This book is for everyone who likes to read about adventure, travel, altruism, love, and the dangers one may encounter travelling in "unchartered waters."
It would have been difficult for me not to identify with the protagonist (the author)as I read of his struggles to learn the language, to gain acceptance in Yanomami society, to learn the simple code of ethics in a primitive culture as well as his efforts to acquire survival skills such as learning to fish, hunt, climb trees, go on long treks. My own sense of wonder and excitement grew when I read of the author's "first contact" with hitherto uncontacted Yanomami tribes, and the reaction of these people upon seeing an outsider-a white man-for the first time! I was filled with admiration for the author when I read in chapter 9 that he distributed his very last malaria pill to a Yanomami tribesman, a deed for which he almost paid the ultimate price.
His inner struggles with his conscience are apparent when in chapter 7 the author could no longer be the casual observer, the detached scientist-researcher, and allow the stabbing of a poor, whimpering, malaria stricken woman. A scientist in the field is supposed to observe but not intervene. By putting his feelings first, he saved a life.
Upon reading this book, I felt the utter despair that the author must have experienced when he thought he would lose his wife, Yarima, because of needless red tape, delaying his permit to return to her and her tribe. I also felt his happiness upon finding her again. I was sorry to learn when I saw the National Geographic documentary entitled "Yanomami Homecoming" that Yarima decided not to return to the USA with her husband and children, especially since she indicated in the documentary that she loved her husband. This was why she had married him and moved to New Jersey where she lived for 6 years trying to adapt to western life.
My life was greatly enriched by reading this book. I had learned a great deal about birth and death in Yanomami society, about funeral practices, incest taboos, practising agriculture in the jungle, strange customs such as body painting and other forms of body beautification. Having read several other books about indigenous people of the Amazon I can truly say, this book eclipses them all.
Books I have read about the Yanomami include: "Amazon" and "Savages" both by Dennison Berwick; "Aborigines of the Amazon Rainforest" by Robin Hanbury Tenison; and "Amazon Journal" by Geoffrey O'Connor.
From an avid reader in Alberta, Canada, October 30, 1999 *****
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