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The Highest Altar

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  41 Ratings  ·  6 Reviews
In 1983 the author went to Peru to investigate the remains of the 500-year-old mummy of an Inca boy said to be the victim of human sacrifice. Later he discovered that human sacrifice is still practised in remote areas in the Andes. This book attempts to illuminate the significance of human sacrifice in man's social and religious development. Anthropologists and archaeologi ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published September 1st 1990 by Penguin Books (first published 1989)
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Rita
Human sacrifice is almost synonymous with pre-Columbian civilisations, and is generally thought to have been abandoned along with other superstitions, beliefs and practices that our species held in it's infancy. But in truth, human sacrifice is not only a stain on many past cultural and religious histories, but it remains prevalent today and is still a surprisingly important influencer on modern society. The Highest Altar is an engaging and fascinating exploration of that.

The first cases of rit
...more
David B
Oct 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This exploration of human sacrifice meanders a bit, but maintains interest throughout. Perhaps it should have been organized into three parts. Parts 1 and 2 are very anecdotal as author Patrick Tierney gives a first-person account of his adventures in the Andes as he investigated his subject. Part 1 is as much about mountain climbing as human sacrifice. He scaled various peaks to investigate mountain burial sites of Incan child sacrifices. In Part 2, he spends time in the company of modern-day s ...more
Kirsten Mortensen
Dec 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the other books I'm reading right now (and no, it's not on my shelf; I've given up trying to keep my GR shelf up-to-date, I'm too impulsive in my reading and I read too many books at a time) is "Clear and Simple as the Truth," by Francis-Noel Thomas and Mark Turner. It's a book about a writing style they call "classic."

Classic prose, they write, "is pure, fearless, cool, and relentless. It asks no quarter and gives no quarter to anyone, including the writer ... human beings are not pure,
...more
David Bonesteel
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
This exploration of human sacrifice meanders a bit, but maintains interest throughout. Perhaps it should have been organized into three parts. Parts 1 and 2 are very anecdotal as author Patrick Tierney gives a first-person account of his adventures in the Andes as he investigated his subject. Part 1 is as much about mountain climbing as human sacrifice. He scaled various peaks to investigate mountain burial sites of Incan child sacrifices. In Part 2, he spends time in the company of modern-day s ...more
Steve Rolfes
Apr 17, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The first 2/3 of the book were interesting, but got a bit tedious. Suddenly at the ending chapters Tierney took a decidedly anti-Christian attitude, particularly anti-Catholic, all of which I found rather insulting. He only gave the opinions of Jacob Maccoby, and did not seek out any opposing explanation by Christian theologians.
Andrea Petrullo
May 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
I'd started reading this towards the end of the semester for a reseearch paper and I wound up hooked on it. Most of the book is focused on South America, and it covers both ancient and modern cases of human sacrifice, which is still practiced in many remote Native American communities. The Highest Altar reads something like a detective novel, but it's nonfiction.
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