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Under The Mountain Wall Paperback – 18 Dec 2012


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Product Description

Review

"Peter Matthiessen is an original and powerful artist who has produced as impressive a body of work as that of any writer of our time. Both as a novelist and as a naturalist he has immeasurably enlarged our consciousness"

"Matthiessen-is a writer of great integrity, who lives the life he writes, and yet whose scathing critique of our all-consuming, all-exploiting society is also realistic" (Scotland on Sunday)

"Our greatest modern nature writer in the lyrical tradition"

Book Description

'Matthiessen is a talented writer and imaginative traveller and a man of true originality' Independent

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x903cd6b4) out of 5 stars 8 reviews
39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x90583bf4) out of 5 stars Excellent Portrait of a Lost Society 21 Mar. 2007
By Old Dragon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book was the 2nd Peter Mathiessen book I read (after reading his superb "Sand Rivers") and it's images have stuck with me ever since. Those first two books of his that I read made me a fan of this author's works and I still am after more than a dozen more books.

What Mathiessen provides in this tome is a two year look at a vanishing society. Much to his dismay, but to Christianity's delight, the missionaries were on their way to the locale of his book at the time he was leaving New Guinea. "Under the Garden Wall" provides photographs and livid descriptions of this so-called "Stone Age" society. The author has saved this society in perpetuity by this book.

The descriptions were honest, not lurid or sensational. He described the way the people lived without embellishment. It is a good read because Matthiessen was and is a superb wordsmith, the author cared about these people and their ways were foreign but their motiviations familiar.

Any student of sociology, anthropology and/or history is aware of the driving force of sex, and the tendencies toward violence, in all societies. To the extent these were present amoung the subjects of his study, he reported on them.

Ritual mutilation is one of the most offensive subjects covered, but, again, any student of the aforementioned three disciplines is aware of various and sundry forms of ritual mutilation practiced by many peoples presently, historically and pre-historically. On this offensive custom Matthieson reports objectively.

One of the beauties of this particular book is that Mathiessen, who has a tendency to push his personal beliefs, strays from the objective only in his handling of the coming of the Christian missionaries. He states his belief that it is more important to preserve the culture, while the Christians would counter that is is more important to preserve their souls. Even his comments on his own opinions were inoffensive except to the most fundamentalist of Christians because his point, though wrong in their eyes, is well formulated and stated.

This is a terrific read about a fascinating subculture saved for posterity by Mr. Mathiessen. I wish I could rate this as a 9 out of 5 to make up for the other review of this book.

If you are a fundamentalist Christian, parts of this book may aggravate you and you may not want to read this. If you are squeamish about viloence and some sexuality in a real setting, you may not want to read this. To anyone else with any interest in sociology, anthropology and/or history, order this book, now.

If you are a student of anthropology, doesn't one of the rituals practiced by the people in this book give an explanation for some "mysterious" cave paintings from central France about 20,000 years earlier?

Enjoy!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x90460e4c) out of 5 stars Superior book 17 Jan. 2008
By AB Album - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I'd advise people not to be put off by the 1 star review. I enjoyed this book immensly, though it is not as good as "Snow Leopard" or "...Fields of the Lord".
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x907ae730) out of 5 stars Rocky Stone Age 6 Mar. 2015
By E. Joseph Anna - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"Under the Mountain Wall" by Peter Matthiessen tells of the people in Stone Age New Guinea. At the time the book was written (1962) these people had little or no contact with modern civilization. It takes little stretch of the imagination to visualize our own ancestors of 15,000 years ago. The weakness of this book for the modern reader is the author's use of numerous native names and locals. Even though there is a glossary of terms at the end, the use of common nouns would have been appreciated. Personal names such as "Asikanalek", "Elomaholan", "Namilike" almost have the sound of Old Testament characters, but are difficult to remember and differentiate. Would it have been against the rules to give them common pseudonyms like "John", "Tom", or "Fred"? A much more readable book on the subject is Jared Diamond's "The World Until Yesterday". I have inadvertently attached this review to the paperback version. I read the Kindle version.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x90584204) out of 5 stars A Keeper Too 30 July 2014
By Mutant Daddy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Terse and to the point, a companion to "Gardens of War: Life and Death in the New Guinea Stone Age", by Gardner and Heider. Matthiessen follows several people around and diaries their daily life including their social interactions.

There is also a documentary called "Dead Birds" that has unvarnished (and chilling) footage of daily life in the stone age highlands.
HASH(0x90444084) out of 5 stars Stone Age war games 29 April 2015
By Dan Winger - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
a very thought provoking work, difficult to read at first, because the names are so difficult. The glossary helps. the photographs are difficult black and white. but the questions raised by the book about people making war for entertainment are very thought provoking!
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