Savage Harvest

Savage Harvest

A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller's Tragic Quest for Primitive Art

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Michael Rockefeller disappeared in New Guinea in 1961. Rumors surfaced that he'd been killed and ceremonially eaten by the local Asmat, a native tribe of warriors whose complex culture was built around sacred, reciprocal violence, head hunting, and ritual cannibalism. The Dutch government and the Rockefeller family denied the story. Retracing Rockefeller's steps, Hoffman traveled to the jungles of New Guinea to solve a decades-old mystery and illuminate a culture transformed by years of colonial rule.
Publisher: ** E-Book // Click on DOWNLOAD link to place holds
ISBN: 9780062116185
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Jun 24, 2016

I agree overall with the comments of irzabata below, although not concerned with the Rockefeller family other than if anyone deserves to have their heads chopped off [shrinking is optional] it's the Rockefellers. The utter audacity of the not only assassinating MLK, but then paying for his funeral as if it was a grand gesture [along with the murders of the Kennedy brothers] ensures them to eternal damnation, if there be such a thing. From the Ludlow Massacre, to the horrors of the Pinochet regime and beyond, the Rockefellers constitute some of the devils among us. [Trust a Rockefeller to go to a culture where head hunting has finally been ended, and instigate its resurgence!]

Jun 24, 2016

This book is much deeper and thought-provoking than the sensationalist title suggests. True, it is about solving the mystery of what happened to Michael Rockefeller, the wealthy scion who disappeared in remote Dutch New Guinea in the early 60s. The rumors are that he was killed and eaten by native tribespeople and known cannibals. While I personally think we will never know 100 percent for sure without concrete evidence and DNA tests, he makes a compelling and plausible case using circumstantial evidence.

The book is about more than Michael Rockefeller though. It’s about the colonial and village events that possibly led to his death. Nothing happens in a vacuum. It’s also about the Asmat indigenous themselves, their culture and the spiritual beliefs that gave rise to cannibalism. I think he raises important questions about the obtaining of “primitive” art by wealthy collectors and the impact of white colonialism on remote villages. Very thought-provoking.

I do think he stepped overboard when it came to censuring the Rockefeller family. He doesn’t understand why they didn’t want to pursue the truth in Asmat itself and discover what really happened to Michael. He claims that they left Michael’s spirit to roam untethered and restless in the world. He is the one setting Michael free. I found that presumptuous. I don’t think the family should be criticized for not wanting to dwell on and conjecture about the last moments of Michael’s life. Whatever happened, I think we can be fairly certain he died. If the people who loved him want to shield themselves and remember his life rather than torture themselves with the manner of his death, who is the author to criticize them for that?

Apr 23, 2016

A very interesting story involving a very public american figure of the 60s. The author has researched the topic and his narrative is believable. Having said that, he engages in a lot of unnecessary repetition. Overall entertaining and instructive.

Jul 16, 2014

Great read seeped in history and anthropology. Michael Rockefeller's disappearance and death happened when I was in grade school, and I'm still fascinated by "ancient" tribes and customs that inhabit our modern world. Perhaps it was Mr. Hoffman's writing style, but I found the ending somewhat wanting--like the dessert that didn't materialize--my reason for four stars. Irregardless, this is a story of modern adventure worth reading.

ChristchurchLib Apr 13, 2014

"In 1961, a scion of the powerful Rockefeller family, 23-year-old Michael, disappeared during an expedition to Dutch New Guinea where he'd planned to study a primitive tribe and gather art for a museum that his father -- the governor of New York -- had founded. Michael's body was never found, and officials ruled that he had drowned... but rumours swirled that he was actually killed and eaten by natives. In search of the truth, avid traveller and author Carl Hoffman recently retraced Michael’s path, immersing himself in the world of former headhunters and cannibals to solve this historical whodunit. If you enjoy this "riveting, multilayered tale." (Publishers Weekly), pick up Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff, which takes place in the same area." Armchair Travel April 2014 newsletter


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