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People of the Deer

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  1,287 ratings  ·  86 reviews
In 1886, the Ihalmiut people of northern Canada numbered seven thousand; by 1946, when Farley Mowat began his two-year stay in the Arctic, the population had fallen to just forty. With them, he observed for the first time the phenomenon that would inspire him for the rest of his life: the millennia-old migration of the Arctic's caribou herds. He also endured bleak, intermi ...more
Published (first published December 31st 1950)
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Dennison Berwick
Feb 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Canadian author and naturalist Farley Mowat has come in for heavy criticism in recent years for falsifying and hugely embellishing parts of his books. For example, when Mowat said he had spent two summers and a winter studying wolves, the Toronto Star, a newspaper in Toronto, Canada, wrote that Mowat had only spent 90 hours studying the wolves. Mowat has admitted he doesn’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.

While this may be very disappointing - personally, I like to be able to trust
...more
Book Concierge
People of the Deer – Farley Mowatt
4****

From the Forward - On an evening when the sun hovered above the horizon’s lip, I sat beside a man who was not of my race, and watched a spectacle so overwhelming in its magnitude that I had no words for it.
Below us, on the undulating darkness of the barren plains, a tide of life flowed out of the dim south and engulfed the world, submerged it so that it sank beneath a living sea. The very air was heavy with the breath of life itself. There was a sound o
...more
LeeAnn Heringer
Twenty-first century man doesn't goes out into the wilderness without a flight plan, GPS, satellite phones, emergency SOS beacons, a corporate sponsor. So, we ratchet up the risk level to compensate. Blind climbers on Everest, kayaks dropping down 189 foot waterfalls, swimming from Cuba.

This is the adventure tale of an old skool mid-20th century guy who just went out there to a blank spot on a map to see what was out there and report back. Let's just say he had no plan B. The author who wrote a
...more
Blair Stretch
Dec 28, 2020 rated it liked it
A fascinating and meaningful mix of ethnography and storytelling.
Czarny Pies
Oct 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: No one. If you buy it you run the risk of spending good money on one of his other books.
Shelves: canadian-history
The People of the Deer is the masterpiece of Farley Mowat who was one the greatest fact manglers in the history of Canadian literature. During his life, Mowat was quite bitter that his ability to lie and distort was never given the full recognition that it deserved. He was especially infuriated at the praise lavished on Truman Capote's new genre of "nonfiction novels" asserting that his works contained far more falsehood's than any of Capote's.

The literary community in Canada was not impressed.
...more
Debbie
Jan 21, 2010 rated it it was ok
I'm interested so many people give this book shining reviews. Did they read it recently, or are they remembering enjoying it back in their youth?

A member of my book club had heard of it, so we chose it to try something off the beaten path, so to speak. But I soon found the book terribly dated with politically incorrect language (half breed, primitive peoples, etc.) and the writing painfully pretentious. On any given page I found sentences such as "The sterile, unbreathing land of winter breathed
...more
Rachel Mantas
This was one of those books that should have been in ever school library, if it wasn't already. And part of teaching in either grade 9 geography, Canadian History in grade 10, or History of other grades, possibly even when we learned in grade 7 about the voyageurs, of the 1700's as a final lead in to what was being or had been discovered in Canada. This is such an impassioned story of the north and I truly believe more Canadians and historians should be talking about this extreme circumstance wh ...more
Bob Newman
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"...now that the caribou are gone...."

A large number of Western ethnographers have gone forth to study various peoples all around the world, in both developed and developing countries. How many of them were able to write such a powerful work as PEOPLE OF THE DEER ? Not many. Farley Mowat, a well-known Canadian writer, trained as a zoologist, includes beautiful description of the nature he encountered in his two year sojourn in the part of (modern) Nunavut back in the 1940s when that part of Nort
...more
Chana
This is a very powerful piece of work and an indictment of the policies of greed and prejudice which have destroyed the Ihalmiut, the inland Eskimos of Canada's Great Barrens.
OK, well first one should know that there is controversy as regards the absolute truth of what Farley Mowatt has written in his books, I guess especially regarding the Wolf (Never Cry Wolf) but I tend to believe what he writes, at least as much as one can believe anyone. Of course this is Farley Mowatt's truth, a person's
...more
Mel Bossa
Apr 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 0007-history
As a Canadian, I was deeply moved by this book and the plight of the Ihalmiut people (the Inland Eskimos whose survival depended on the Deer). Mowat's intelligence, his sensibility, his great gift for story telling, kept me enthralled.
He told the story as if it were the Barrens themselves he was breathing into the pages...The elements, the loneliness, the sense of urgency, the beauty and simplicity, the grandeur, the complex solutions to a simple problem: starvation...He painted all this with h
...more
May Ling
Before reading this book, I would never have believed it would receive all 5 stars. However, it is truly beautifully written about the death of a people. The author - who lived with the tribe for 2 years to attempt to understand the people from their point of view - did an expert job of recanting what happened, how it happened. He makes a very determined attempt to see things differently than his point of view. My opinion is that he succeeds in doing so.

Though a sociologist, the book is luridly
...more
LibraryCin
In the late 1940s, Farley Mowat spent a couple of years in Northern Canada (what would be part of Nunavut now). This recounts his time there, spent with the local Inuit. He tells the story of the people and also explains the habits of the “deer” (caribou).

I like Farley Mowat, but (no surprise) I definitely prefer his books when the focus is on animals. In this book, I really enjoyed the parts about the caribou, but the rest varied – some of it held my interest and other parts didn't. I was impr
...more
Subarashi
Oct 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
a lesson in empathy. mowat takes readers to northern canada where he lives among the inuit people. with the development of the continent, their land, livelihood, and population are all disappearing. this book haunts because it doesn't preach. 12 years after reading it, i vividly remember the inuit reduced to eating their boots and blankets to survive the winter. as i remember it, there was nothing righteous about the story, but it was profoundly humbling. ...more
Keith
Jun 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
One of my favorite books from high school days. Farley Mowat is probably Canada's best author. His most commercially successful work, "Never Cry Wolf" was adapted for the big screen, too. "People of the Deer" is about Mowat's time spent studying the Native people known as the Ihalmuit, and their nomadic lives following the enormous Caribou herds and migrations in the far north of Canada. Yes, he gets some "Eskimo bootie", too, so it's not all dry academia. ...more
Rita
Feb 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Mowat always has an engaging writing style. I get so immersed in his world. This book, greatness and sadness. Basically an ethnography of the Inuit (inland Eskimoes) and their trials and way of life.
Bill Schrandt
Jul 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was my introduction to Farley Mowat as an author. I've never been able to get enough. His passing is sad. ...more
Joe Hay
Nov 19, 2020 rated it liked it
This is an interesting, informative, and historically important book that suffers from a few significant flaws.

It's historically important, because it brought significant attention to the Ihalmiut people of what is now Nunavut, resulting in actual political action to assist their situation. The results were mixed (and the Canadian government - just a few years ago - issued a formal apology), but it was a substantial attempt.

It's interesting, because it's a smoothly-written, often poetic introduc
...more
Drew
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
I picked “People of the Deer” by Farley Mowat because I love hunting and just the outdoors in general. I’ve hunted for quite some time and I think it would be fun to go hunt for something bigger than deer. That’s why I picked this book because I thought it would be fun to hear about his experience hunting.

The book ”People of the Deer” is a good book and it has a good flow to it. I really liked how it keeps you interested and makes you want to read more. I enjoy the atmosphere he is surrounded b
...more
Barb
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
I picked up this musty old book at the library used book sale because it had a book cover that showed Eskimos on it, and I'm so glad I did. It was published in 1952, but the author Farley Mowat was ahead of his time, because he lovingly portrayed the culture of the Ihalmiut people without belittling them because their life was different Western civilization. Mowat lived with the Ihalmiut people for several years and learned their language. The Ihalmiuts are Inuits that lived in the "Barrens" wes ...more
Rik Brooymans
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In a book that is written in the same laid-back, conversational tone as his other works, Farley Mowat took me on a journey to and through a place that I've never been to and will likely never see. It was entirely unexpected and wholly engrossing to spend some time with the Ihalmiut of the Barrens, whose everyday existence can be so alien and so familiar all at once.

This is not a diary or logbook of his interactions, but a collection of highlights from what was clearly a trip far outside the comf
...more
Liz
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: did-not-finish
While its immersive look at the lives of an otherwise seemingly under-documented people is compelling for its era, I can't finish this book. It's been dragging out in fits and starts for a year now and I haven't been able to put my finger on exactly what bothers me so much about it until now. I feel like I am reading the transcript of a 1970s wildlife documentary and not the story of a group of people. The main characters of the story might as well be caribou and not human beings for all the sto ...more
Joseph Carrabis
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
People of the Deer is a tear-jerker of a read. I never met Farley Mowat and I truly wanted to as I spent some time traversing the areas he (and Barry Lopez in Arctic Dreams) writes about so beautifully. People of the Deer is must reading for people wanting to know more about the plight of the Great North.
Michael Sova
Apr 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Not his best effort but, in my experience, Mowat doesn't write bad books. In addition to being entertained, you will undoubtedly learn things you didn't know aboutCanada, Eskimos, migratory patterns of deer, history, and so on. . ...more
Heather(Gibby)
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bingo-2018
Although this story is quite dated, it contains a message about the dangerous costs of "progress" on our natural resources and the people who rely on them for survival.
Mowat is a fantastic story teller, and this novel keeps the reader absorbed form cover to cover.

...more
Dooug
Mar 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Captivating account of a remote people. Though it seems Mowat does embellish stories and highlight himself, the writing is engaging. Heartbreaking story of the demise of a indigenous culture due to unfettered capitalistic and religious influences.
Mike Slates
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Invaluable study of North American native peoples. A Canadian treasure.
Gordon Jones
May 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
I have wanted to read some Farley Mowat books for awhile and finally got around to my first one last month when I read And No Birds Sang. It was excellent and made me hunger to read another, which I just did with People of the Deer.

In 1886, the Ihalmiut of northern Canada numbered 7,000 souls; by 1946, when 25-year-old Farley Mowat travelled to the Arctic, their population had dwindled to only 40. Living among them, he observed the millennia-old migration of the caribou and endured the bleak win
...more
K.
Aug 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
FASCINATING!!!

Stayed up last night to finish this amazing book. I have to admit that I'm not a very good non-fiction reader and usually I would especially be sleeping while trying to read a biological/anthropological/ zoological/conservationist-like slanted book--but this author is a really amazing author with the ability to submerge his readers into the world he's inhabiting--making you care about the people or animals or places he's writing about it a very intimate way.

I really don't know ho
...more
Jenn Hailley
Oct 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
Mowat describes his two-ish years living in the 'Barrens', the arctic plains. Specifically, he describes his relationship with the Ihalmuit people (people of the deer), a specific group of Inuit who lived in the interior of the arctic. These people numbered in the thousands at the end of the 19th century, and by 1947 when Mowat went up to live with them, they numbered well under 100 (pretty fucked up). He learns their language and seems to earn their trust, and through this he describes living w ...more
Barry (she/her)
Sep 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
As far as books written in the 1950s by white men about indigenous people, this is not the worst I've ever read. Mowat's style was a little difficult for me to get into, but after a couple false starts (and finally forcing myself through the wide-eyed and floral first chapter) I made it through. People of the Deer amounts to an only-somewhat infantilizing ethnography of the Ihalmiut Inuit men.

Much of the critique I have seen for this book relates to its accuracy. However, I think that as a para
...more
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Farley McGill Mowat was a conservationist and one of Canada's most widely-read authors.

Many of his most popular works have been memoirs of his childhood, his war service, and his work as a naturalist. His works have been translated into 52 languages and he has sold more than 14 million books.

Mowat studied biology at the University of Toronto. During a field trip to the Arctic, Mowat became outrage
...more

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4 likes · 3 comments
“the free rights of men to destroy themselves through ignorance.” 4 likes
“The Ilhalmiut do not fill canvases with their paintings, or inscribe figures on rocks, or carve figurines in clay or in stone, because in the lives of the People there is no room for the creation of objects of no practical value. What purpose is there in creating beautiful things if these must be abandoned when the family treks out over the Barrens? But the artistic sense is present and strongly developed. It is strongly alive in their stories and songs, and in the string-figures, but they also use it on the construction of things which assist in their living and in these cases it is no less an art. The pleasure of abstract creation is largely denied to them by the nature of the land, but still they know how to make beauty.
They know how to make beauty, and they also know how to enjoy it-- for it is no uncommon thing to see an Ilhalmio man squatting silently on a hill crest and watching, for hours at a time, the swift interplay of colors that sweep the sky at sunset and dawn. It is not unusual to see an Ilhalmio pause for long minutes to watch the sleek beauty of a weasel or to stare into the brilliant heart of some minuscule flower. And these things are done quite unconsciously, too. There is no word for 'beauty'--as such--in their language; it needs no words in their hearts.”
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