|George Franklin Feldman, |
Cannibalism, Headhunting &
Human Sacrifice in North America
(Alan C. Hood & Co., 2008)
This is not a book for the faint-hearted. That said, it is an interesting, even engrossing exploration of man's inhumanity and the struggle for dominance.
George Franklin Feldman, who voices a long interest in archaeology and North American history, presents evidence to dispel the sanitized viewpoint of the Native American as noble savage. The presentation does little for the image of the European explorers and colonizers, either. His account of Pilgrim treachery and how the Puritans murdered Massasoit's sons is a bit different from the conventional Thanksgiving mythology.
None of the information presented is really new. It was already available in a multitude of books and documents, many of which are included in Feldman's extensive bibliography. He did do his homework, though, and fairly points out the source material belies the conventional history that glosses over the brutal clashes in which Native Americans and Europeans were matched in brutality.
Feldman is also clear in stating that many cases of atrocity need to be viewed with suspicion due to the prejudice of the reporter. There are, of course, other cases where terrible practices have been borne out by more recent scientific studies. For instance, there is evidence of cannibalism among the early Southwestern Basketmakers confirmed by the work of molecular biologist Richard Marlar.
This is not a book for every reader. But for those willing to take the plunge it offers interesting food for thought on the nature of man and the consequences of his actions.
John R. Lindermuth
12 September 2009
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