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The Other Side of Eden

Hunters, Farmers, and the Shaping of the World

Hugh Brody

North Point Press

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ISBN10: 0865476381
ISBN13: 9780865476387

Trade Paperback

384 Pages



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Hugh Brody here crystallizes three decades of studying, learning from, crusading for, and thinking about hunter-gatherers. Contrary to stereotype, he says, it is the farmers and their colonizing descendants—ourselves—who are the true nomads, doomed to the geographical and spiritual restlessness embodied in the story of Genesis. By contrast, the hunters have a deep attachment to the place and ways of their ancestors that stems from an enviable sense, distinctively expressed in thought, word, and act, of being part of the fabric of the natural and spiritual worlds.


Praise for The Other Side of Eden

"An informed, passionate and enlightening volume, one that draws on an exceedingly rich experience and adds new dimensions to our understanding of the diversity of human life."—Richard Bernstein, The New York Times

"[Brody] presents a culture of exceptional maturity, rich in many of the things we believe we have lost—a sense of place, a sense of kinship with nature and with each other."—The New Yorker

"Anthropology at its best, its most thoughtful . . . The best books change the way you think. This is one of those."—National Geographic

"Brody's book is more than merely a personal story. It is also a radical and ambitious argument about human history."—Newsday

"An indispensable book. It creates a haunting symphony: part philosophy, part linguistics, part eulogy, and it informs our deepest sensibilities as few books can. While Brody exquisitely ranges throughout history and the world at large, The Other Side of Eden is perhaps most like a documentary film of the soul of the Arctic, Brody's personal heartland. Nobody—nobody—writes better about the northern reaches of our planet . . . Brody is absolutely fearless in his thinking, bold in his writing, generous in his knowledge and love of existence itself."—Howard Norman, author of The Bird Artist and The Haunting of L.

"Hugh Brody has written a learned, eloquent, and mysteriously moving introduction to the enduring culture of hunter-gatherers. But none of these adjectives does justice to the deeply transformative experience of reading The Other Side of Eden, which led me beyond the limits of familiar mythology, introduced me to people whose lives are radically different from my own, and reminded me, at the same time, that different as they are, hunter-gatherers are an essential piece of my humanity and I cannot truly understand myself without them."—Jonathan Rosen

"A terrific read . . . In part a fascinating memoir of Hugh Brody's decades of living with and working on behalf of native hunting and gathering peoples [but] it is more importantly an examination of the ways in which freedom and intimacy with both family and location intersect in those cultures. Thus it offers us a model we ought to consider very seriously when setting out to rethink our own acquisitive, confrontational, divisive, warlike, and destructive ways."—William Kittredge

"Penetrating meditation on traditional societies caught in the avalanche of modern times, and on the gentle infusion of the holistic vision, not only in regard to life and death, but in such quotidian concerns as good manners and the care of children. Wonderful!"—Peter Matthiessen

"In this wondrous book, Hugh Brody takes us on many journeys—to the Arctic Circle and the origins of humanity, and deeper yet into the mysteries of language and culture, dreams and colonialism. By doing so with translucid originality, he provides readers with the chance to question how their own modern lives are organized and, more crucially, what we must re-imagine about the past and the future if we are to survive as a truly thinking species."—Ariel Dorfman

"Brody presents a sympathetic and informative study of several indigenous hunter-gatherer peoples of the North, including the Innu, Inuit, Nisga'a, and Dunne-za societies. He focuses on both the essential value of symbolic language (e.g., Inuktitut) for human culture and the ongoing struggle between sub-Arctic or Arctic hunters and the intrusive farmers. Full of facts, insights, and anecdotes, his analysis captures the joys and hardships of these peoples, who live in a world of ice, snow, ferocious winds, and treacherous waters. Brody takes the reader into the mental makeup of these oral, nomadic cultures, which stress equality, individualism, and a respect for the existential bond between self and place, as well as a deep respect for nature. He is very critical of the biases, prejudices, and negative stereotypes about hunters and gatherers that continue to be voiced by their farming neighbors . . . [A] unique contribution to understanding and appreciating these hunter-gatherers of the frozen tundra."—H. James Birx, Canisius College, Buffalo, New York, Library Journal

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt

The Other Side of Eden

Imagine the crystal darkness of an arctic night. A canopy of stars and a glowing arc of aurora, the northern lights. A vast astral flickering and dancing; yet a sense of eternal, unmoving...

About the author

Hugh Brody

Hugh Brody is an anthropologist and documentary filmmaker who has worked and traveled extensively among indigenous peoples. He is the author of several previous books.

Copyright Jerry Bauer