by Lionel Tiger ‧ RELEASE DATE: Aug. 12, 1987
There's never a dull moment with outspoken anthropologist-social commentator Tiger. Here he pounces on modern industrial society, arguing that evil abounds in our production of superweapons, our exploitation of nature, of former colonies, of minorities, workers, women, children. In contrast to Tiger's decidedly more upbeat Optimism: the Biology of Hope of a few years ago, this new Tiger relentlessly worries the issue of man's capacity for evil and self-destruction--based, he avers, on the seduction of the marketplace with its hierarchy of bureaucrats and managers. Where are the hunter-gatherers of yesterday, the small bands of kinship-linked families who shared and cared, divided the labors, and trod the earth for millennia before the first agrarian settlers? With hardly a pause for the animal husbanders and domesticators of plants, Tiger moves rapidly to pre-industrial England and then to Victorian and modern times, sounding his Jeremiad against ""Gesselschaft""--society--as opposed to ""Gemeinschaft""--community. This is not a new refrain with Tiger, but there is enough erudition, enough searching of the literature past and present, and enough new angles to surprise both fans and foes. For example, Tiger devotes a fascinating chapter to the meaning of literacy. Reading and writing are difficult for humans, he says, because we are a species given to orality. He devotes a chapter to the legacy of Victorianism and the paradoxes that confront women: They now can control their reproduction but at the cost of fewer children, fewer marriages, continued uphill battles in gaining equity from the forces of production in society. These themes tend to reinforce Tiger's definitions of what is our biological human nature and his romanticizing, Ã la Rousseau, of those halycon hunter-gatherer days. Along with the nostagia come a few quirky ideas as well--such as a theory that homosexuality is related to barbiturates consumed in pregnancy. So: a vast potpourri of ideas, some brilliant, some half-baked; definitely provocative.
Pub Date: Aug. 12, 1987
Page Count: -
Publisher: Harper & Row
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1987
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