Austen to Zafón 's Reviews > Human Cycle

Human Cycle by Colin M. Turnbull
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's review
Nov 23, 2011

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bookshelves: non-fiction, philosophical, bio-memoir

I read this in college. Turnbull was an ethnographer who spent years living with Pygmy tribes in Africa, not as a disinterested observer, but as a friend and member of their communities. Turnbull was gay (although that isn't mentioned in this 1983 memoir/philosophical treatise) and growing up in 1930s and 40s Britain was a harsh and cold experience for him. He contrasts English parenting, schools & social norms to the warmth and caring of the tribes he lives with. While I don't think it was a balanced portrayal of either, I found it moving and compassionate and it supported my growing conviction that closeness with children is more important and effective than discipline and structure. Turnbull's long-time partner wasn't too happy that he wasn't mentioned in the book.
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