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The Land of Naked People: Encounters with Stone Age Islanders

3.33  ·  Rating details ·  57 ratings  ·  10 reviews
On a lush, remote island, modern civilization has recently made contact with what may be the last group of Stone Age people. The Sentinelese wear no clothes, do not know how to start a fire, and have fervently rejected the intrusion of outsiders. But that is changing, writes Madhusree Mukerjee, who has had exceptional access to that island and the others that make up the A ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published August 1st 2003 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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3.33  · 
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I have mixed feelings about this book. Its about the various Stone Age tribes in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, their history and how degrading, demeaning and decimating all contact with modern people has been to them. The modern people were firstly the British, then the Japanese and now the Indians who own the islands (although the islanders themselves have never been consulted about the transfer of their sovereignity to any foreign power).

The history is confined to contacts over the last th
Feb 10, 2009 rated it did not like it
The only drama here is unintentional, as we witnesses the author grasp desperately for a fascinating story to justify her Guggenheim grant. It remains out of her reach.
This book has been in my Amazon wish list for some time. I am familiar with the author's writing from having subscribed to Scientific American for a decade. I had high hopes for this book.

However, I was disappointed. The book is about India's far flung provice / colony / territory called the Andaman islands. The islands are closer to Indonesia, Burma and Thailand than to mainland India.

The work is divided into four books named after the four major tribes in the islands - Great Andamanese, Onge,
Tim Martin
Aug 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
_The Land of Naked People_ by Madhusree Mukerjee is an interesting and informative account of one of the last stone age peoples in the world (or what is left of them), native peoples of the Andaman Islands, a archipelago located north of the Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal in the Indian Ocean, a people that according to archaeologists, linguists, and geneticists have been isolated from the rest of the world for tens of thousands of years. Mukerjee interwove personal accounts of travels to t ...more
Jun 02, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: armchair anthropologists
Shelves: non-fiction, usa
I found Mukerjee's anthropological memoir describing the current life of the people of the Andaman Islands to be extremely gripping. Known for centuries in the outside world as the most "primitive" humans in existence, so primal in their lifestyle that they had not even mastered fire, they were often looked upon as little better than animals. Mukerjee cites and quotes myriad period documents which describe the interplay between the outsiders who took control of the Andaman Islands, first the Bri ...more
Nallasivan V.
May 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
A travel + history book covering the major tribes of Andaman Islands. The book's focus is on how the tribal life has changed because of their encounter with the mainland civilization. Andamans have been witnessing the clash of civilization since the 1800s. First, with the British explorers and military trying to establish their foothold on the islands. Later, with the Indian government trying to establish control over the dominion.

Little understanding of the aboriginal way of life meant that th
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
This is poorly organized. The author intersperses historical information with modern-day information, based around her research trips to the island. However, neither the historical nor contemporary events unfolded in order. There are several tribal groups spread over the islands, which are distinct from each other; how, exactly, isn't well-shown. She repeatedly mentions a number of people she encounters on her repeated visits to the island, but doesn't give enough information for them to be dist ...more
Peter Kirby
Dec 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I found this very informative and useful when I was living on the Andamans.
Vince Ciaramella
Jun 16, 2016 rated it did not like it
This is a book that could have been interesting but never got off the ground. I feel like the author was reaching for a story that just wasn't there. Most of these tribes have been documented and I was looking for a more anthropological look at their customs and history. Most of this book details run ins with British or other sailors during the 19th century or India's mistreatment of the aborigines. But these short parts are just anecdotal and not really all that informative. The rest is the aut ...more
Sep 16, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: No one
This book read more like a dissertation rather than an informative work of non-fiction. I ended up skimming portions of the back half.
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Malcolm Gladwell does the Podcast "The Prime Minister and the Prof" in Revisionist History inspired by her book "Churchill's Secret War."