This particular account was written by a woman who in her youth, along with family members, actually lived for some time among bushmen who were still living according to their ancient culture I found it tremendously interesting, though sad in the parts that dealt with their difficulties brought about by the modern world.
One Of Our Most Influential Anthropologists Reevaluates Her Long And Illustrious Career By Returning To Her Roots And The Roots Of Life As We Know It When Elizabeth Marshall Thomas First Arrived In Africa To Live Among The Kalahari San, Or Bushmen, It Was , She Was Nineteen Years Old, And These Last Surviving Hunter Gatherers Were Living As Humans Had Lived For , Centuries Thomas Wound Up Writing About Their World In A Seminal Work, The Harmless People It Has Never Gone Out Of PrintBack Then, This Was Uncharted Territory And Little Was Known About Our Human Origins Today, Our Beginnings Are Better Understood And After A Lifetime Of Interest In The Bushmen, Thomas Has Come To See That Their Lifestyle Reveals Great, Hidden Truths About Human EvolutionAs She Displayed In Her Bestseller, The Hidden Life Of Dogs, Thomas Has A Rare Gift For Giving Voice To The Voices We Don T Usually Listen To, And Helps Us See The Path That We Have Taken In Our Human Journey In The Old Way, She Shows How The Skills And Customs Of The Hunter Gatherer Share Much In Common With The Survival Tactics Of Our Animal Predecessors And Since It Is Knowledge, Not Objects, That Endure Over Time, Thomas Vividly Brings Us To See How Linked We Are To Our Origins In The Animal Kingdom The Old Way Is A Rare And Remarkable Achievement, Sure To Stir Up Controversy, And Worthy Of Celebration This was one of the best books on the subject that My wife and I have read for a long time We went to that part of Africa and we could relate to every experience that she wrote about as we followed the San Bushman original people on a hunt.
This book caps off a lifetime of involvement with the hunter gatherer people Her first book,The Harmless Peoplewas from the eyes of a teenage Elizabeth Thomas I enjoyed both immensely, and these brought me to her mother s books, Kung of Nyae Nyae, and Nyae Nyae Kung Beliefs and Rites These books have finally helped me fully comprehend our species as the animals we are, and not the civilized wonders we ideal ourselves.
The Old Way is an excellent view of the world of the First People, how they lived for so many previous millennia, and what has happened to them in this one Sometimes beautifully written, always wonderfully observed, it yet suffers from repetition, and the unavoidable lack of a normal narrative line for most of the book These are people who survived by changing as little as possible, not constantly striving toward some far off goal in the way we come to expect in histories But this is an important book, and well worth the effort to read and finish.
The Old Way is an intimate profile of the Ju wasi people, an ancient hunter gatherer population that subsisted peacefully for centuries in the Kalahari desert until the 1950 s when their efficient and industrious way of life fatally collided with modernity, poverty, drugs and alcohol abuse Elizabeth Marshall Thomas portrait of the Ju wasi is well written, informative and not without humor My favorite passages are the reflections on the author s interaction with women and children Here s a representative example To lift a Ju wa child is an interesting and wonderful experience An American child is heavy by comparison and comes up off the ground like a sack of grain with arms and legs dangling dead weight A Ju wa child almost lifts himself because he participates in the action with his arms and legs ready to clasp you so that the two of you instantly fuse as if you were a magnet and he a little piece of steel And you don t have to hold him up he clamps himself right on you and holds himself in place You need merely to keep an arm around him I love to carry Ju wa children 114.
Some parts were less warm and clinical, reading like an ornithologist s description of a flock of birds The author makes no ontological distinction between man and beast While I don t agree with her view that the only fundamental difference between chimps and us is time, I still enjoyed her tenderly rendered portrait of a people she obviously cares very much about.