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

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

Carl Hoffman
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

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.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2367 KB
  • Print Length: 339 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (18 Mar 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00DB30K30
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #170,054 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Presumed Drowned at Sea 13 April 2014
When I think of Imperialism, Colonialism and empire building, the last country that would have come to mind is The Netherlands. But they did indeed have colonies such as Dutch Guiana, Gold Coast, Mozambique, South Africa, and many others including Dutch New Guinea where this book takes place. I found this story entirely fascinating and in more ways than I had expected. The author goes back to track Michael's footsteps,read the now public access records and talk to natives who knew Michael or their relatives. Probing into the stone age culture that still practiced headhunting and cannibalism at the time of Rockefeller's death was fascinating. The government played a large part in convincing the world that these people, the Asmat, no longer practiced these atrocities. While I'm usually not interested in obscure country's politics, what was going on behind the scenes with the Dutch government who at the moment Michael disappeared were trying to convince the UN they should be allowed ownership of the colony, was stimulating. While Michael Rockefeller was presumed drowned at sea after an extensive public search, the real search for the truth wasn't started by the Dutch authorities until everyone had gone home and what they discovered was shared with few and silenced to secrecy. The author uncovers the truth fifty years later for the public, but questions will always remain.
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I did not know much about Michael Rockefeller before reading the book. The story is really interesting: everything is triggered from Michael's passion for primitive art. But then expand the content towards the anthropology, the colonialism and the detective work to search for truth behind the death of Michael Rockefeller. Very well documented, it offers a great description of a world and a culture that seems far centuries ago. But everything happened in the sixties (though most of the research has been done in New Guinea by the author in 2012) Can't put it down until the end!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lives less ordinary 16 July 2014
By Jules
An incredible story investigating a 50 year old disappearance, shrouded in secrecy and ambiguity surrounding the impact of our allegedly civilised society on the cannibalistic head-hunters of New Guinea.

An engaging, fast-paced page-turner, Savage Harvest provides not only closure on a captivating mystery but also provides great insight into the devastating impression that the intrusion of civilisation can leave in its wake.

A great read.
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Format:Kindle Edition
This book does a great job at detailing the disappearance of Michael Rockefeller in New Guinea in 1961. Michael Clark Rockefeller (born May 18, 1938; presumed to have died November 17, 1961) was the youngest son of New York Governor (later Vice President) Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller and Mary Todhunter Rockefeller and a fourth generation member of the Rockefeller family. He disappeared during an expedition in the Asmat region of southwestern Netherlands New Guinea. The author, Carl Hoffman details within this book what he believes are the events of how and who killed him. The book is beautifully written and is an expertly researched piece of journalism. I am glad I read this book and would definitely recommend it to others.

Thank you for reading my review.
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4.0 out of 5 stars When Civilization Meets Savagery... 5 May 2014
In this grim but captivating account of the final hours of Michael Rockefeller's life and the culture of the Asmat tribe, the author makes some convincing claims backed up by a wealth of research including, but not limited to his own time spent amongst the savages. The book switches tenses from what his investigations led him to believe occurred in late 1961 to his own present day encounters with the Asmat peoples. He does a thorough job in digging up the facts, and provides extensive fodder for thought regarding a possible cover up by Michael's own family and the Indonesian government. Upon completion, I felt the views presented within were the most probable set of circumstances leading up to the young adventurer's death.

My only complaint in an otherwise stellar book was Mr Hoffman's presentation of the Asmat in what I perceived to be far too empathetic a light, considering that one cannot excuse away murder owning to cultural differences. Still, it was a fascinating read that carried me away into the world of this primitive tribe.
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