Savage Harvest

Savage Harvest

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

eBook - 2014
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An fascinating investigation into a tragic disappearance that gripped the world.

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, rumours 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 rumours and stories circulated, fuelling speculation and intrigue for decades. The real story has long waited to be told - until now.

Carl Hoffman is a contributing editor at National Geographic Traveler. Savage Harvest is his third book. His second, The Lunatic Express: Discovering the World Via Its Most Dangerous Buses, Boats, Trains and Planes , was named one of the ten best books of 2010 by the Wall Street Journal and was a New York Times summer reading pick. He has won four Lowell Thomas Awards from the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation and one North American Travel Journalism Award. A veteran journalist and former contributing editor for Wired , he has travelled to more than 70 countries on assignment for Outside , Smithsonian , National Geographic Adventure , ESPN , the Magazine , Wired , Men's Journal , Popular Mechanics and many other publications. He is a native of Washington, D.C. and the father of three children.

'The most brilliantly told adventure to come out of New Guinea.' Tim Flannery

' Savage Harvest is a gripping read, and though Hoffman's conclusion may be familiar, he's erected a solid foundation of reporting that goes far beyond what the rest of us did and is likely to make this the definitive account.' Slate

'A taut thriller...Hoffman goes further than anyone in describing the charged political backdrop and the dynamics of Asmat society that surrounded Rockefeller's this gripping book.' New York Times

'In an expertly told tale begging for a film adaptation, Hoffman crafts a remarkable, balanced examination of this sensational case...[He] deserves much credit for this riveting, multilayered tale.' Publishers Weekly

'In his terrific and often gruesome new book, Savage Harvest , travel journalist Carl Hoffman, who lives in Washington, reopens the case, travelling to Papua New Guinea and coming back with a riveting tale.' Washington Post

'Carl Hoffman once-and-for-all solves the mystery of where the search went wrong, who the Asmat people are, and what really happened to Michael Rockefeller.' Men's Journal

Publisher: Melbourne, Australia :, Text Publishing,, 2014.
ISBN: 9781925095456
Characteristics: text file,rda
1 online resource
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc. - Distributor

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Jun 24, 2016

I agree overall with the comments of irzabata below, although not concerned with the Rockefeller family other than if anyone deserves to have their heads chopped off [shrinking is optional] it's the Rockefellers. The utter audacity of the not only assassinating MLK, but then paying for his funeral as if it was a grand gesture [along with the murders of the Kennedy brothers] ensures them to eternal damnation, if there be such a thing. From the Ludlow Massacre, to the horrors of the Pinochet regime and beyond, the Rockefellers constitute some of the devils among us. [Trust a Rockefeller to go to a culture where head hunting has finally been ended, and instigate its resurgence!]

Jun 24, 2016

This book is much deeper and thought-provoking than the sensationalist title suggests. True, it is about solving the mystery of what happened to Michael Rockefeller, the wealthy scion who disappeared in remote Dutch New Guinea in the early 60s. The rumors are that he was killed and eaten by native tribespeople and known cannibals. While I personally think we will never know 100 percent for sure without concrete evidence and DNA tests, he makes a compelling and plausible case using circumstantial evidence.

The book is about more than Michael Rockefeller though. It’s about the colonial and village events that possibly led to his death. Nothing happens in a vacuum. It’s also about the Asmat indigenous themselves, their culture and the spiritual beliefs that gave rise to cannibalism. I think he raises important questions about the obtaining of “primitive” art by wealthy collectors and the impact of white colonialism on remote villages. Very thought-provoking.

I do think he stepped overboard when it came to censuring the Rockefeller family. He doesn’t understand why they didn’t want to pursue the truth in Asmat itself and discover what really happened to Michael. He claims that they left Michael’s spirit to roam untethered and restless in the world. He is the one setting Michael free. I found that presumptuous. I don’t think the family should be criticized for not wanting to dwell on and conjecture about the last moments of Michael’s life. Whatever happened, I think we can be fairly certain he died. If the people who loved him want to shield themselves and remember his life rather than torture themselves with the manner of his death, who is the author to criticize them for that?

Apr 23, 2016

A very interesting story involving a very public american figure of the 60s. The author has researched the topic and his narrative is believable. Having said that, he engages in a lot of unnecessary repetition. Overall entertaining and instructive.

Jul 16, 2014

Great read seeped in history and anthropology. Michael Rockefeller's disappearance and death happened when I was in grade school, and I'm still fascinated by "ancient" tribes and customs that inhabit our modern world. Perhaps it was Mr. Hoffman's writing style, but I found the ending somewhat wanting--like the dessert that didn't materialize--my reason for four stars. Irregardless, this is a story of modern adventure worth reading.

ChristchurchLib Apr 13, 2014

"In 1961, a scion of the powerful Rockefeller family, 23-year-old Michael, disappeared during an expedition to Dutch New Guinea where he'd planned to study a primitive tribe and gather art for a museum that his father -- the governor of New York -- had founded. Michael's body was never found, and officials ruled that he had drowned... but rumours swirled that he was actually killed and eaten by natives. In search of the truth, avid traveller and author Carl Hoffman recently retraced Michael’s path, immersing himself in the world of former headhunters and cannibals to solve this historical whodunit. If you enjoy this "riveting, multilayered tale." (Publishers Weekly), pick up Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff, which takes place in the same area." Armchair Travel April 2014 newsletter

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