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Man-Eater: The Life and Legend of an American Cannibal

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  1,058 ratings  ·  132 reviews
In the winter of 1873, a small band of prospectors lost their way in the frozen wilderness of the Colorado Rockies. Months later, when the snow finally melted, only one of them emerged. His name was Alfred G. Packer, though he would soon become infamous throughout the country under a different name: “the Man-Eater.”

After the butchered remains of his five traveling
Paperback, 374 pages
Published August 4th 2015 by Little A (first published July 2nd 2015)
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Robert Hepper This is explained in the book. The correct spelling of his name is "Alfred." But due to Packer's lack of education and literacy, at a younger age he…moreThis is explained in the book. The correct spelling of his name is "Alfred." But due to Packer's lack of education and literacy, at a younger age he would misspell his own name as "Alferd." Even getting a tattoo of his name spelled Alferd when he was in the military. In later years though, as he became more educated, he would spell his name correctly as "Alfred." (less)
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Start your review of Man-Eater: The Life and Legend of an American Cannibal
"I never met a meal I didn't like"

I mean seriously, the man is buried somewhere close to where I live apparently, how can I not be curious.

"The bodies were left at the campsite; however, the following August the remains were discovered by Harper’s Weekly Magazine Artist John Randolph on a bank above the Lake Fork of the Gunnison, just up from Lake City. Randolph reported the finding and, after being examined by the Hinsdale County Coroner, the skeletons were buried in a shallow grave near
This is the stuff that movies are made of.
It was a very interesting book.
Opened my eyes a bit and made me think twice about some things.
I wouldn't read this if you had a weak stomach.
I received this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Interesting true-life tale of Alfred Packer, a man known as the American Cannibal. The book was obviously well-researched, providing an incredible amount of detail not only about the case, but about various other cases of cannibalism in the 1800s.

The one downfall of this book is that it got really tedious about halfway through the book.
Rick Goldsmith
Aug 10, 2015 rated it it was ok
Not very filling. Could have used some side dishes
Jul 08, 2015 rated it really liked it

Man-Eater: The Life and Legend of an American Cannibal follows the life of Alfred Packer as best it can manage. This man lived at the tail end of the 19th century, fought in the civil war, worked as a tracker, had horrible epilepsy, and ultimately may have murdered and eaten five of his travelling companions in the Colorado mountains.

May have. But the evidence is pretty damning.

So, let's name a grill after him.

The book is extremely accessible. It's easy to read, even with the subject matter at
April Cote
Apr 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, history
I found this very interesting. Who doesn't want to hear the details of a man eating his fellow travelers?
I gave it three stars because it was very repetitive.
One of my favorite true crime books was written by Harold Schechter. It's called Deviant & it's about the life and crimes of Ed Gein. So you can imagine my excitement when I was given the opportunity to read one of his new releases!

I find the era in which bold text: Man- Eater took place to be very interesting. I think life was much more simpler in many ways. I guess I never really thought about murders taking place during the Wild West days though. This book will make you realize that
♥ Marlene♥
Listening to my second )3rd) audiobook. As I mentioned in my review yesterday this makes doing chores in my house less of a choir and more fun.

Love this reader. He sometimes talks like they used to in the South. At first I was not sure if I could keep on listening. My stomach was making a pirouette when he described what the Anasazi did with their prisoners. Cut them all apart drank their blood Oh I cannot even think of it and had to stop for a bit (I was going to have dinner but had to postpone
 Simply Sam ツ
For a story about an infamous cannibal known as "The Man Eater" this book was pretty boring and tedious to get through. RTC later.
Aug 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
This review originally appeared on the Historical Novel Society website.

Alfred (or possibly Alferd) Packer was a former Union soldier turned drifter who sought his fortune in Colorado by prospecting for silver. He joined up with a group of men in 1873 and was one of six prospectors who decided to brave the winter snows and strike out into the wilderness. The following spring only Packer emerged, having subsisted on the bodies of his companions.

The question of whether Packer had murdered the
Jul 13, 2016 rated it did not like it
Who knew cannibalism, prison breaks, and sensational trials could be so boring? I hate not finishing books, but after weeks of finding reasons not to keep reading this book I had to give up. The material is interesting, the writing got tedious very quickly.
Katherine Addison
I first heard of Alfred Packer in The Thin Man. For reasons that I admit aren't entirely clear to me, Hammett interrupts his own narrative at one point to provide the complete precis of Packer's crimes given in Duke's Celebrated criminal cases of America. According to Schecter, Hammett's claim was that he did it to pad an overly skinny book, which I don't believe for a second. Gilbert asks Nick more than once about what you might call hidden crimes like cannibalism and incest. Which may, now ...more
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
Aug 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Man-Eater: The Life and Legend of an American Cannibal by Harold Schechter is a highly recommended nonfiction narrative about Alfred (Alferd) G. Packer, a prospector who was accused of cannibalism.

Six miners went into the mountains
to hunt for precious gold;
It was the middle of the winter,
the weather was dreadful cold.
Six miners went into the mountains,
they had nor food nor shack—
Six miners went into the mountains,
But only one came back.
"The Lost Miners"(or the Ballad of Alferd Packer;
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
I really really really wanted to like this book more. The story begins with cannibal factoids, delves into the early history of the United States, ultimately introducing the title character, Alfred (or Alferd) Packer. Then...

Well... I feel like ol Harold Schechter got a little caught up in a wheel of repetitiveness. There are more than just a few moments in this story that feel like the same thing over and over and over again, to the point, I did find myself skimming a portions, because I
An excellent audio performance by Eric G Dove made this a quick listen. But I did find myself growing tired of Schechter's intrusion into the story of Alferd Packer. Rather than simply reporting the information we have on Packer's cannibalism in the post-civil war Rocky Mountains, and the competing contemporary opinions of Packer's innocence or guilt, Schechter passes his own judgement on the case, albeit subtly, and I found myself wondering why this particular case garnered his personal ...more
Really interesting tidbit from the thousands of stories from the American wild west/expansion days. I think the author did a great job in researching the material concerning the life/imprisonment of Alfred Packer.

Using today's standard - I believe Mr. Packer was innocent of most of the crimes attributed to him and that he was truthful of the crimes he acknowledges. The evidence at the time (the 1800's) was like a 'snow foundation' which the passage of time has melted away and may have proven
Comtesse DeSpair
Mar 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love true crime books by Harold Schechter. He is so good at cutting through to the details of the case without leaving anything essential behind. Here, he cuts through to the bone of the Alfred Packer case. You remember Alfred? He went into the Colorado mountains in 1873 with 4 other men, but he was the only one who walked out; the rest were found butchered and devoured. Packer admitted cannibalizing the men but insisted that one of the other men had gone crazy and killed three of them while ...more
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book is very interesting, but very detailed and gruesome. I would not recommend to anyone who is easily grossed out because this book describes the murders and cannibalism in great detail. About halfway the book transforms into detailing the trial and moved a lot slower than I would have liked. The book also provides a lot of background information on other instances of cannibalism the history of it. I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of history books or true crime books.
Dec 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was surprisingly good. I couldn't put it down. When I started reading it, I thought the guy sounded familiar, so I looked up Alferd Packer -- of course it was familiar, I saw "Cannibal! The Musical!" years ago, which is about him.

A fascinating read.
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thoroughly researched and well-written account. My only real complaint is that it may in fact be too thorough, as Schechter seems to have incorporated every piece of his research, making the book often slow and sometimes repetitive. Also, not nearly as funny as Cannibal! the Musical.
Andrea Winn
Slow reading. I was not too engaged and had to force myself to plow through. The subject matter is fascinating, but the writing left much to be desired. Sorry, Harold Schechter. ...more
Mar 27, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A mystery, for sure, but what I really enjoyed about this book was the historical content of the courts and reporting at this time in history. I loved the language the attorneys and judge used, and even the defendent. I waffled back and forth all thru the book on Mr. Packer’s innocence or guilt, but in the end, finally agreed with the conclusion of the author. Could it be proved in a court of law......not in those days, but one just had to use their common sense, which isn’t grounds for ...more
David Hines
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
The case of Alfred Packer is one of the most imfamous episodes of cannibalism in the Old West. In 1873 in Colorado, Packer and 5 other men got lost and delayed while traveling in rugged winter terrain. Spring came, and only a well-nourished Packer emerged. He admitted to becoming starved and eating the bodies of his 5 associated, after he said, he returned from a reconnoitering hike to find that one of them had become mad, killing the other 3 and coming at him with a hatchet before he shot and ...more
Jun 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received a ARC of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. I was first introduced to Harold Schector was through his book Nevermore, which is a murder mystery with Poe as the detective and Davy Crockett as his 'assistant' in the proceedings. I later discovered that Schector seems to have an obsessive interest in the darker area of true crime with all his psycho/serial killer books! All that being said, I do find his books rather interesting and so, when I found a new book of his on ...more
Aug 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history

Anyone remotely familiar with Colorado history has heard of Alfred Packer and the tales of cannibalism. Packer, like many other figures, has taken an almost larger than life quality, but what really happened?

Harold Schechter’s Man-Eater: The Life and Legend of an American Cannibal attempts to sort out truth from fiction regarding Alfred Packer. Some basic facts aren’t in dispute: Alfred Packer was a marginally literate con-man who set out with five others; his party got trapped in the San Juan
Aug 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
Disclaimer: I received this as part of the GoodReads First Reads program.

This is the story of Alfred Packer. In 1873, Packer was part of a group heading west to find their fortune. While trapped in deep snow and frigid temperatures in Colorado, Packer allegedly killed 5 of his partners, robbed them and butchered them, cooking and eating their remains for several weeks before he could finally make his way out. He always claimed that one of the others killed them all, and he killed that person in
The story of Alfred Packer is rather interesting and gripping. Unfortunately this piece about him is not.

Yes, true crime can be dry especially when dealing with the 19th century turn-of-phrase and style of dictation, I'll admit that. But the books layout presents a jumpy narrative which interrupts what little flow the book has going for it making it hard to get caught up in the events being discussed. Added to that is the overly plodding pace set by the author which makes it feel like a textbook
Jerry Rose
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
amazing telling of the horrors of cannibalism along Westward Expansion, this hidden gem of human history left me hungering for more with each page of delectable horror exhumed.

sensational American journalism since 1492 and beyond...

On my 50-minute break walks I took during this book, I pictured a toothless cannibal shaking along the side of the road, who would reach to grab me as I jogged past. Luckily, this horror was reserved to my imagination. T-Most scared of reality since Dot Hutchinson's
Jill Crosby
Dec 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
This is not one of Schechter's best efforts. Unlike his examinations of killers like Albert Fisch and Ed Gein, this book offers very little insight into the killer's background or psychological analysis, which are what make Schechter's books so fascinating. Basically, Man-Eater is a frontier cannibalism story, where a band of lost prospectors, trapped in a blizzard, are robbed, murdered, and eaten by one member of their party. I couldn't work up any interest to care much about his fate through ...more
Lauren Albert
I knew Schechter slightly when I taught at Queens College for a few years. I always liked that he stepped out of the stereotype of the professor to write these true crime books. But while the titles of Schechter's books always make them sound like seedy dime-store novels, they are more cultural histories in a way. What was the obsession with cannibalism? I don't think he answers this but he does show it. The man-eater was no longer a man but a cultural icon of innocence or guilt.
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Aka Jon A. Harrald (joint pseudonym with Jonna Gormley Semeiks)

Harold Schechter is a true crime writer who specializes in serial killers. He attended the State University of New York in Buffalo, where he obtained a Ph.D. A resident of New York City, Schechter is professor of American literature and popular culture at Queens College of the City University of New York.

Among his nonfiction works are
“Frémont failed in his presidential bid, losing the 1856 election to his Democratic opponent, James Buchanan.” 10 likes
“play The Tempest,” 9 likes
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