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

Carl Hoffman, Author
Carl Hoffman. Morrow, $26.99 (312p) ISBN 978-0-06-211615-4
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-06-232531-0
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-06-211616-1
Book - 978-1-4676-7002-9
Book - 978-0-06-231946-3
Book - 978-1-4829-9251-9
Compact Disc - 978-1-4829-9250-2
Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-06-211618-5
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Born into one of the world’s richest and most influential families, Michael Rockefeller was immersed in the art scene virtually from birth and eventually developed an affinity for primitive artwork that would lead to his disappearance in 1961 off the coast of New Guinea in an area populated by cannibals. Whether then-23-year-old Rockefeller was eaten by those inhabitants was the source of a tremendous amount of speculation and, as Hoffman (The Lunatic Express) shows, an intricate conspiracy involving the Dutch government and the Catholic Church. In an expertly told tale that is begging for a film adaptation, Hoffman travels to the area to speak with members of the Asmat tribe, hoping to gain insight about their practices and complex social structure. By understanding how a possibly unrelated event—the slaughter of a handful of Asmat men by a panicked Dutchman years earlier—led to Rockefeller’s death, Hoffman shows readers the larger picture, and the ways this tragic event had terrible consequences for Rockefeller as well as the tribe. Aware of his own biases as well as Rockefeller’s hubris in collecting items now housed in the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Hoffman crafts a remarkable, balanced examination of this sensational case. While the truth of Rockefeller’s disappearance may never be known, Hoffman deserves much credit for this riveting, multilayered tale. Photos. Agent: Joe Regal and Markus Hoffmann, Regal Literary. (Mar.)
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