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

By Carl Hoffman
Binding:Hardcover
Publisher:William Morrow, (3/18/2014)
Language:English



Average Rating:
Very Unleashable
4.00 out of 5 (1 Clubie's ratings)


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The mysterious disappearance of Michael Rockefeller in New Guinea in 1961 has kept the world and his powerful, influential family guessing for years. Now, Carl Hoffman uncovers startling new evidence that finally tells the full, astonishing story.

Despite exhaustive searches, no trace of Rockefeller was ever found. Soon after his disappearance, 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, and Michael's death was officially ruled a drowning. Yet doubts lingered. Sensational rumors and stories circulated, fueling speculation and intrigue for decades. The real story has long waited to be told—until now.

Retracing Rockefeller's steps, award-winning journalist Carl Hoffman traveled to the jungles of New Guinea, immersing himself in a world of headhunters and cannibals, secret spirits and customs, and getting to know generations of Asmat. Through exhaustive archival research, he uncovered never-before-seen original documents and located witnesses willing to speak publically after fifty years.

In Savage Harvest he finally solves this decades-old mystery and illuminates a culture transformed by years of colonial rule, whose people continue to be shaped by ancient customs and lore. Combining history, art, colonialism, adventure, and ethnography, Savage Harvest is a mesmerizing whodunit, and a fascinating portrait of the clash between two civilizations that resulted in the death of one of America's richest and most powerful scions.

 
 

Nick's thoughts on "Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller's Tragic Quest for Primitive Art"
updated on:6/30/2014

It's safe to say that you probably haven't read a book quite like Savage Harvest. I am a sucker for good history and good storytelling and this book has a great deal of both. The author investigates the mysterious 1961 disappearance of Michael Rockefeller, a young man just out of college who also happened to be the heir to one of the largest fortunes in the world. He traveled to New Guinea to collect ancient and "primitive" art and vanished while doing it. He was never found and presumed drowned, but stories emerged of his being captured and killed by a tribe of cannibal headhunters. The author retraces the steps and dives into the culture of the Asmat warriors rumored to have taken Rockefeller. The reader is immersed into a fascinating convergence of a young man's journey to liberate and find himself against a backdrop of decaying colonialism and a primitive, isolated culture on the edge of humanity. While at times a bit prone to conjecture and outright guessing, the narrative still is engrossing and engaging. A very interesting and odd bit of history.

Very Unleashable


"Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller's Tragic Quest for Primitive Art"
By Carl Hoffman

Average Rating:
Very Unleashable
4.00 out of 5 (1 Clubie's ratings)


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