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The Last Days of Eden
Rating :
Author(s) :
Napoleon A. Chagnon
Pages :
Pub Date :
Edition(s) at Erowid :
1992(pb,1st ed,fine)
Publisher :
Harcourt Brace
They have been called "our contemporary ancestors": the Yanomamö, a tribe of some twenty thousand Indians who live on the border between Brazil and Venezuela in the ecologically fragile Amazon basin. Until recently the Yanomamö were isolated from the outside world, cleaving to their ancient patterns of culture and organization; to this day, most have never heard of Brazil and Venezuela, they have yet to invent the wheel, and they use a number system that knows no refinement beyond "one," "two," and "many." And until recently, as Newsweek put it, "The Yanomamö had the good fortune to live their Stone Age lives on land no one else wanted.

Now, however, gold-hungry miners (and the diseases they bring), deforestation, and land expropriation threaten the tribe as a culture and as a population. Napoleon Chagnon, who first made contact with the Yanomamö in 1964, is the world's foremost authority on the tribe, and in this eloquent, meticulously detailed, and often passionate book he gives an unforgettable portrait of an extraordinary people and sounds an urgent call to halt what might otherwise be "the last days of Eden." Perhaps, as a tribesman once proudly told Chagnon, the Yanomamö can teach foreigners something about being human.

The newest edition of this classic work features a foreword by Edward O. Wilson, the distinguished Harvard science professor, co-author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Ants, and author of On Human Nature (also a Pulitzer Prize winner).

"Conservation of the biological diversity of the rain forest and the cultural diversity of our own species is the highest priority of our times. This unique, pioneering book focuses on one of the most important remaining native Amazonian peoples, the Yanomamö, who are even more endangered than the forests they inhabit."
-- Russell A. Mittermeier, President, Conservation International

Napoleon A. Chagnon is a professor of anthropology at University of California, Santa Barbara. He has been widely published in such magazines as National Geographic, Natural History, and Geo. He lives in Santa Barbara.