An American anthropologist spins an amazing tale of adventure and romance among "the last of the world's stone age warrior tribes." In 1975, graduate student Good headed off for 15 months of fieldwork along the Venezuelan-Brazilian border. He stayed for 12 years. Aim? To study the Yanomama, a nomadic tribe (current count: 10,000) so primitive it boasts no calendar, no metal, no clothing, no wheels. Against expectations, Good found "a way of life that, while dangerous and harsh, was also filled with camaraderie, compassion, and a thousand daily lessons in communal harmony"—not the least coming through his marriage to Yarima, a nine-year-old Yanomama girl. In addition to taking notes on Amazonian sexuality, largely a matter of "every man for himself," Good shared the everyday life of the tribe, observing customs that range, to an American mind, from the grotesque (drinking the ashes of the dead) to the nauseating (chewing on roasted tarantulas). In time, Good's anthropological diffidence vanished, and he found himself defending Yanomama women against sexual assault—finally bringing Yarima to America after she fell victim to gang-rape during his absence. Good rejects the theory that the Yanomama—and, by extension, all humans—are inherently violent, crediting them instead with high emotions and few restraints. This conclusion leads to some ugly sniping at opposing academics, the only blight in an otherwise outstanding jungle adventure—a page from H. Rider Haggard or W.H. Hudson come to life.
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