In 1961, Michael Rockefeller, the youngest son of Nelson Rockefeller and an heir to the Rockefeller family fortune, was on a expedition to purchase “primitive” art from New Guinea’s Asmat ethnic group when he went missing. After an extensive manhunt failed to locate him, his family had him declared dead, with drowning listed as the cause of death. Nonetheless, rumors that he was murdered and eaten by cannibals persisted, despite official statements that such barbaric acts could not take place in Dutch-ruled New Guinea.
Fifty years later, journalist and travel writer Carl Hoffman set out to discover the truth behind Michael Rockefeller’s mysterious disappearance. Hoffman visited to the remote region where the Asmat live, which is still very primitive by Western standards, and investigated “dusty” Dutch archival documents (why are archival documents always “dusty”?). He learned an Indonesian language to speak to the sons of the men who were implicated in the disappearance. Most importantly, he tried to understand the Asmat cosmology and worldview, which are based on the idea that the spirit world demands balance–life for life, and death for death.
Savage Harvest is just one of several nonfiction books you may find on our “Last Year’s Hits: 2014” display near the adult reference desk. You can check this book’s availability in the catalog here.