I've been eagerly awaiting this book since I first became aware of its release, which was likely due to Daphne's review. Cannibalism is an undeniablyI've been eagerly awaiting this book since I first became aware of its release, which was likely due to Daphne's review. Cannibalism is an undeniably fascinating subject, and Bill Schutt tackles it with grace and humor, as long for a disdain for the sensationalism that has too long colored all publications on the topic. The book was fascinating from cover to cover, and is extremely well-organized. It begins with the study of it in the animal kingdom, and ends with the much needed topic of prion diseases, their spread, and how poorly understood they are.
Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History is destined to become the go-to book on the topic. Well sourced, entertainingly written, and scattered throughout with just enough humor and a large dose of respect, it does its topic justice. Bill Schutt writes with a deft hand that does much to dispel many of the sensationalized myths that surround some of the better known cases (i.e. Donner Party, Praying Mantises, Black Widows, etc.) and does a good job explaining topics that have never really gotten enough focus (i.e. prion diseases, kuru) or have suffered from the wrong type of focus.
This book was immensely readable, and more in depth and well-sourced than I expected a pop-science book to be. It definitely opened my eyes to the complexity of the topic, and added to disdain I already felt towards one Jared Diamond and his tendency to over simplify nearly everything. I'm very much looking forward to more being published in regards to the Neanderthal hypotheses presented in this book, as well as for more studies being done on the truly terrifying prion diseases. Nothing terrifies me more than the section on prion diseases in this book, and what it may hold in store for our future....more
I received this book, happily, as an ARC from the GoodReads First Reads program in exchange for an honest review.Oh, Graham Hancock, how I enjoy you.
I received this book, happily, as an ARC from the GoodReads First Reads program in exchange for an honest review.
The focus of Magicians of the Gods is Hancock's belief that the end of the Younger Dryas period was caused by a celestial impact. This asteroid strike, or multiple strikes as he believes that it split in the atmosphere, was primarily focused upon the ice shelf at the Canadian/US border and created the scablands that we see there today. So, what does that mean?
In Hancock's mind this impact, some 10,600 years ago, was what triggered the floods we see in old myths, the apocalypses of a myriad of ancient cultures, and what caused the collapse of a now-lost civilization (possibly Atlantis) that caused the survivors to spread out and gift their advanced technological prowess to the other cultures.
Now, where is the proof of this? Hancock finds it in monuments he believes to be older than they seem. Baalbek, Gobekli Tepe, the Easter Island Moai, Indonesian megaliths, etc. The book is a survey of ancient sites as much as it is trumpeting his hypothesis. Whether or not you believed in the YD impact theory, it is worth a glimpse or two for the gorgeous photographs taken by his wife at the various sites. More than simply ancient Egypt, this book surveys commonly overlooked sites and makes a good case for a re-examination of some of them.
I enjoyed this book. While I don't subscribe to the ideas of genetic manipulation existing that far back, I do believe there are many cases where archaeologists could reexamine some evidence. I do believe, also, that it would be worth it to do deeper surveys of un-studied places such as Indonesia. I don't find the idea of lost civilizations that unusual, and I think for the most part, Hancock is good about what he postulates.
Even if you don't agree with Hancock, at least read the bits where he references Sitchin and crushes the hopes of Ancient Astronaut Theorists everywhere by revealing faulty translations.
I picked this book up on a whim at my local library, and soon discovered it was already on my to-read listing. Clearly, this was a fortuitous sightingI picked this book up on a whim at my local library, and soon discovered it was already on my to-read listing. Clearly, this was a fortuitous sighting.
This book was incredibly fascinating. Others have complained about the surfeit of speculation within it, and I will agree that there is a lot of speculation, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. If you pick it up as a relative newcomer to the Bog Body phenomenon, I feel this book has a lot to offer and a lot of fascinating insight into the not all that distant past. The photographs, at the very least, are worth quickly thumbing through the book to see. They're truly breathtaking.
Ultimately, I think my favorite part of the book was the utter respect with which the author treated the subject. At no point do the Bog Bodies become some freakish display, they are always human. It's important that we respect the past, and the bits of life that were managed to be reconstructed with startling things.
We may never know why the bodies were put into the bogs, why the ritual sacrifice (if it was such) occurred. But we can wonder, and we can do our best not to forget those we find, and what their last moments must have been like as they sunk beneath the surface, trapped forever somewhere between life and death....more
Hugh Warwick has managed to write a book that is simultaneously informative and deeply entertaining. His passion for the humble hedgWhat a great book!
Hugh Warwick has managed to write a book that is simultaneously informative and deeply entertaining. His passion for the humble hedgehog shines through in every page, and it's impossible to not have some of that rub off on you while reading this book. Indeed, it's impossible not to fall a bit in love with the animal the second you 'do the nose to nose thing' with them.
The hedgehog is an inherently silly animal, but there's something in its industrious and utterly benign nature that attracts both passion and obsession. There's something fascinating in the tiny creature, and what a joy it is to witness that love ignite in everyone I introduce the spiny beasts o. To see those emotions beautifully highlighted in someone else's words is heartwarming. To see it paired with a deeper scientific understanding of the animal was plain beautiful.
I've already passed this book on to two other people, and I honestly can't wait to encourage still others to read it. Save the hedgehog, save the world as the author put it. Any way an animal can be better loved and understood is a good one, and I've seen firsthand how passion for one creature can extend to all the others in our lives....more
World of the Wolf by Candace Savage is an interesting exploration of the wolf's history and relationship with humans. It openly admits how little we uWorld of the Wolf by Candace Savage is an interesting exploration of the wolf's history and relationship with humans. It openly admits how little we understand the species, and goes on to explain just why we haven't put more time into examining it. The troubles of wolves and men are explored, and a great many wonderful photographs are scattered throughout it.
This is more of a coffee table book than it is one to pick up and read. The photographs in it are huge, detailed, and absolutely stunning. The writing is short, but well researched and well-done. The topics are never delved into too deeply, but what is said is meaningful and memorable.
This is a good book, and very enjoyable collection of pictures. For better information, the bibliography is extensive and includes Of Wolves and Man which is one of my favorite books on the topic....more
The Dead Sea Scrolls are something that truly fascinate me. There's so much speculation about the community that wrote them, so much sheer oddness wheThe Dead Sea Scrolls are something that truly fascinate me. There's so much speculation about the community that wrote them, so much sheer oddness when it comes to what the Essenes believed and preached. It sheds new lights about just how different the religious communities were then.
This book goes into the history of the scrolls discovery, and what was known at the time of publication about the community that wrote them. It was a fascinating read, though of course now a bit out of date. I still would recommend it to anyone interested in the scrolls, as any information is still good information in my estimation. It was by no means a dry read....more
The content of this book was marvelous. It collected a series of Australian aboriginal folktales, transcribed from oral accounts. The low rating largeThe content of this book was marvelous. It collected a series of Australian aboriginal folktales, transcribed from oral accounts. The low rating largely comes from my lack of background in that field and the difficulty I had with the language therein. A lot of native language was used, and although the words were defined in the glossary in the back, it was a trying experience constantly flipping through to attempt to garner a better understanding of the content.
This is the sort of book I'd want to give to my future children. This book explains, bit by bit, the archaeological practice of unearthing lost citiesThis is the sort of book I'd want to give to my future children. This book explains, bit by bit, the archaeological practice of unearthing lost cities. Each section details a different ruin, how it was discovered, what processes allowed us to date it, translate languages (in the case of ancient Egyptian writing), and so forth.
This book, published in the early '60s, is outdated, but for a children's book it is still fantastic. There is no talking down to the child, and while the language is 'easier' it is still technical enough that a kid could go on to fully understand more complex books.
I received this book from the Goodreads first reads program.
What a fun read!
Gigi Pandian writes with a quick wit, a loving attention to the eccentriciI received this book from the Goodreads first reads program.
What a fun read!
Gigi Pandian writes with a quick wit, a loving attention to the eccentricities of the anthropological trades, and a keen eye for history. She wrapped the history of British India up with snippets of Scotland and even a bit of San Francisco culture quite well. Classic treasure hunt, classic adventure tale, classic mystery... what's not to love?
Indeed, this book did bring to mind Indiana Jones, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to more in this series. Great fun, and a perfect book to while away the hours. I'm quite glad I had a chance to read it....more
I previously read Robert Lacey's first and second installment in his Great Tales of England which I also reviewed here. I was mildly disappointed to cI previously read Robert Lacey's first and second installment in his Great Tales of England which I also reviewed here. I was mildly disappointed to come across many of such tales in the reading of this book, and the tales worded as similarly as they were in the books I've read, but what can one truly expect? It makes sense for the tales to serve as summations of larger books, after all. At he very least I respect his retelling of Canute bringing his throne to the shore. Promoting the correct 'full' version of the tale and its moral (that the power of a king is limited by that of nature and god) is worth however many times it needs to be retold so people will stop using it to illustrate kingly arrogance. It's a disservice to Canute's memory.
Anyway, the book is divided by month, complete with the illustrations from the Julian calender and each illustration is explained within the chapter. The result is a very good look at the year 1,000 and how little it differs from where we are now. Human nature hasn't changed that much, and Robert Lacey is quite good at showing the human side of things. He acknowledges that the analogies are not perfect - in particular when it comes to medical acumen - but at the same time it's heartening to see just how lusty and ridiculous people were... and still are. The riddles were a particularly nice touch.
So, to sum it all up, this is a very good overview, though I wouldn't use it as a primary resource. I shall leave you with this riddle from over 1,000 years ago:
I am a strange creature, for I satisfy women... I grow very tall, erect in a bed, I'm hairy underneath. From time to time A beautiful girl, the brave daughter Of some fellow dares to hold me Grips my reddish skin, robs me of my head And puts me in the pantry. At once that girl With plaited hair who has confined me Remembers our meeting. Her eye moistens.
So, what's the answer?
Yeah, the other riddle they included was even worse. Now I'm just waiting for one of you to ask me to type it up. ...more
This was a very accessible volume. The book is divided into short stories, chronologically for the most part, about the characters that make history.This was a very accessible volume. The book is divided into short stories, chronologically for the most part, about the characters that make history. Legend is treated firmly, but sympathetically, and everywhere that primary sources can be quoted they certainly are.
I found this book both entertaining and informative. The bibliography in the back was quite extensive, and I was rather happy to see that it included some of the books that I've been using for reference.
I'd recommend this to anyone with even an inkling of historical curiosity, as I do believe that it would be a good "gateway" book to get people in a scholarly mind. I've the next two books in the series as well, so here's looking to more history....more
I was looking for an in-depth history of London, and I certainly found it between this book's covers. Peter AckroydThis book was truly extraordinary.
I was looking for an in-depth history of London, and I certainly found it between this book's covers. Peter Ackroyd truly did write a biography of London, from its sprawling streets to its strange citizens. His writing is fluid, and fascinating to read; his use of primary sources is utterly astounding, and somewhat maddening, as the cockney can be a bit hard on the eyes.
Peter Ackroyd's book is told in a very loose chronology. While the 'story' begins with prehistory, and ends in the 80s, not much in this book is linear. He makes London timeless, and turns the city into the icon that it is today. The emphasis of the text is upon how little things have changed, even while London is destroyed and rebuilt cyclically. The essence of the city can be found in the hospitals raised upon the sites of druidic wells, the very wells that the Victorians later claimed had healing capabilities.
The triumph of this text is not in the traditional dates and names of rulers, battles, and the like... rather, the triumph is in the fact that it focuses upon the citizens of the empire. Reading this book, you will learn about the conditions of the jails, what Londoner's favorite pasttimes were, how the role of women changed, and how London assimilates the immigrants. You'll read about how little Cockney has changed from the 1500s, and how London's taste for the theatrical existed before Shakespeare came on the scene.
After reading this book, I feel that I have learned more about London than I have from the World History courses I've taken. Peter Ackroyd has an eye for what's importance, and brings this city of commerce, violence, and theater to life in a way that no one else has.
This book was given to me by the perfectly brilliant Margaret Atwood when it comes to the subject of writing. Then again, where exactly has she gone wThis book was given to me by the perfectly brilliant Margaret Atwood when it comes to the subject of writing. Then again, where exactly has she gone wrong, the woman who gave us The Handmaiden's Tale and Oryx and Crake?
While this book is not for everyone, as some people aren't particularly fond of literary criticism, for those looking for a succinct history of the genre and a consideration of futurology in light of it - this is your book. Margaret Atwood is a wry, accessible author who makes what otherwise may be dry essays both insightful and hilarious to all who wish to read them.
One wishes that all academics had such supreme talent....more
Sadly, this book is already rather out of date. The field of linguistics is constantly changing fromYep, more Bill Bryson. Why not? I was in the mood.
Sadly, this book is already rather out of date. The field of linguistics is constantly changing from day to day, let alone around twenty years down the line. Has it really been that long? Wow.
Anyway, this is a good introductory text to the subject. It fails to go in depth into the subject of linguistics in general, but it's nice if you just want to dip a few toes in. Entertaining to read, filled with irreverence and rather more amusing stories than I expected, this is a quick easy read. Well, easy apart from the Welsh sections.
I did learn a fair bit from the text, more of it made me think, but it could do without the final chapter these days. It made me miss some of my anthropology textbooks of yore, and makes me want to link to stories about Star Wars having Navajo subtitles in an effort to revive the language. It also made my fingers itch to update the text on how Irish is making a bit of a comeback thanks to some new programs... It may die as a first language outside of Galway and Donegal, but as a second language it's really quite popular outside of Ireland.
Ah, well, this one took me a while to get through. Other reviews criticized the style of Armstrong's writing, and sadly, I have to agree with the geneAh, well, this one took me a while to get through. Other reviews criticized the style of Armstrong's writing, and sadly, I have to agree with the general consensus here. Armstrong's writing was not the best, loaded with facts, it often comes off a bit too dry and heavy. This takes away from the readability of the book, and is the only reason I did not give it one or two more stars - it's dense.
The content of the book, however, is both rich and informative. Overwhelming at times, Armstrong's look at the three Abrahamic monotheistic religions is thorough and fascinating. She goes through great lengths to explain even some of the more minute details, and as an introduction to the evolution of religions overtime this text is vital.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in religion in either a practicing manner or an anthropological one. This book sheds light on some of the more modern issues, and offers a historical perspective on how religion may prove helpful in the future....more
While this book is horribly outdated now (it lists the thylacine as still being alive) it is a terribly interesting one. In particular, I enjoyed theWhile this book is horribly outdated now (it lists the thylacine as still being alive) it is a terribly interesting one. In particular, I enjoyed the chapter about the Cargo Cult and some of the religious rites of the Plains Indians....more
What an entertaining book. While I don't agree with all of Marvin Harris' conclusions, I can say that the scientific way that he approaches problems tWhat an entertaining book. While I don't agree with all of Marvin Harris' conclusions, I can say that the scientific way that he approaches problems typically viewed only in a just-so light was both informative and fascinating. His precise evaluation of each question was both thorough and scientific and offers much to anyone fascinated in anthropological (or even political) theory.
While the author is very much the product of the time in which the book was written (the 1970's) the methods that mark his conclusions are a very good introduction to a new way of thinking, and one not often enough used by many laypeople....more
This is an excellent history of both the thylacine and environmental conservation in Tasmania. While this is a reference book, it was far from boring,This is an excellent history of both the thylacine and environmental conservation in Tasmania. While this is a reference book, it was far from boring, and even delved into the cryptozoological question of the creatures continued existence into present day. I would highly recommend this book to people interested in the animal, as well as people with a passing interest in natural history and environmentalism. It is an excellent wake up call for modern day....more
I purchased this book years ago and never quite finished reading it. I'm glad I picked it up once more, and was surprised exactly how in-depth the booI purchased this book years ago and never quite finished reading it. I'm glad I picked it up once more, and was surprised exactly how in-depth the book proved to be. The first chapter, which was heavily into music theory, was difficult to get through. The neuroscience was well-defined, as were the musical terms, and each chapter broke down rather well the topic at hand.
This book was written for the layperson, but didn't sacrifice how detailed the science was as a result of such.
My favorite aspect of the book was the final chapter, which dealt with the evolutionary purpose of music. Both views were examined, though the author favored Darwin's conclusion in regards to it. Each theory was backed up with notes, details, and acknowledgement of contradictory views.
First, I would like to make it clear that I did enjoy this book. The essays were both interesting, and informative - they gave a lot of food for thougFirst, I would like to make it clear that I did enjoy this book. The essays were both interesting, and informative - they gave a lot of food for thought. They were taken from a documentary (if I'm not mistaken, Mythos I and Mythos II?) shown on PBS some years ago. This book contained a good deal of artwork and pictures, going hand in hand with what Campbell was discussing - being printed in black and white, a bit of the artistic grandeur was lost.
I didn't give the book a higher rating, simply because I had some difficulty with the way the book was put together. Beyond the fact that the physical copy I was reading was falling apart in a few places, I felt that the transcription could have been edited better. Some of the essays went off in different directions and were a little bit hard to follow. Furthermore, the book could have been arranged in a bit more of a coherent manner....more
Bart Ehrman is at it again. While in his previous book, Misquoting Jesus, he kept the focus primarily upon the actual art of textual criticism, Jesus,Bart Ehrman is at it again. While in his previous book, Misquoting Jesus, he kept the focus primarily upon the actual art of textual criticism, Jesus, Interrupted, goes further into the historical context under which the Bible was developed.
The information within the book will not come as a surprise to anyone interested within the historical aspects of the Bible itself, nor those who have read his New Testament textbook, but to those who have only a devotional interest in the Bible it should be a shock. The Bible, not the inspired word of God? Say it ain't so!
The tone of the book, as most of Ehrman's work is, remains respectful and gentle. Never does he condemn those who hold the faith, in fact he goes out of his way to point out how much he respects them. This book would go a long way towards resolving the differences between those who hold the faith and those who don't. It's a brilliant piece of work, seeking only to foster an understanding of what's already been written and the situation under which the ideas came alive....more
While there was little material that I was not already aware of within the text, the book was a very good refresher on... the history of mythology. HaWhile there was little material that I was not already aware of within the text, the book was a very good refresher on... the history of mythology. Having a relatively short book on the evolution of myth was helpful, and the concise writing allowed for it to potentially be a quick read. The book is divided chronologically, beginning with prehistory myth (the hunter-gatherers) and ending in modern myth (which she views as creative expression, music, creative writing, etc.)
My main reason for enjoying the book as much as I did (aside from getting a nice refresher) was in the questions that she raised near the end of the text. She mentioned rock stars being the current Heroes and Writers the current myth-makers. How myth relates to the human experience, and how religion has taken a downswing in current years are both interesting topics to me, and although not fully explored in the text, the fact that the questions were raised at all is one that I am happy about....more
This is an absolutely lovely collection of poetry written by working cowboys. Partially traditional poems, and partially new ones, this book shows howThis is an absolutely lovely collection of poetry written by working cowboys. Partially traditional poems, and partially new ones, this book shows how the process has evolved in some ways and changed very little in others. Cowboy poetry is an interesting tradition, often rooted in the literal and the beauty of the nature around them. It reminds me a bit of Everett Ruess, who I suppose would qualify as a cowboy poet in some ways though he wasn't truly a cowboy....more
Lupa is a practicioner of therioshamanism and this book is pretty much an introduction to that combined with a healtSo, this is a bit out of the norm.
Lupa is a practicioner of therioshamanism and this book is pretty much an introduction to that combined with a healthy dose of chaos magick. It's an interesting text, and I suppose a good one for a beginner? I don't really know enough about it to comment too deeply, since I've not read many occult texts of that nature. I found it informative, interesting enough to keep me reading and pondering it. From an anthropology standpoint it's fascinating that people believe in this and practice it regularly. I don't really think I could practice much of it, even out of curiosity, since I'm so darn bad at meditation. Oh well?
It's interesting, informative, but probably not for anyone above novice level, let's say. Her blog is fascinating and goes far more in depth on the different shamanic aspects of her belief and practices. I highly recommend it for the curious and she's quite fun to talk to....more
While the beginning of it was extremely difficult to get through (it contained a good deal of information about the sThis was a truly incredible book.
While the beginning of it was extremely difficult to get through (it contained a good deal of information about the sex trades) and the middle had a tendency towards things rather disgusting (with information about fistulas and the like) the book was fully worth the read.
The information was truthful, and not exaggerated. In several instances the authors actually apologized for the tendencies that other humanity groups have in exaggerating their claims. The author explained the various reasons for the way the book was laid out (i.e. it mainly contained individuals stories) rather than trying to exact sympathy they simply explained that it was a tactic. Acknowledging this earned my respect as a reader and made me more inclined to want to help.
Finally, the book had ways to help. The last portion of the book explains the steps that America should be taking in order to help the situation of women within the world, and actual organizations were then listed. There were steps one as an individual can take to give, and purchasing the book itself gives money to the charities.
All in all, I loved it. This is the way to make a difference as well as to incite others to join in....more