Reviews

  • Magnificent ... In this brilliantly written and deftly organised book, Charles King tells the story of how the study of humankind [was revolutionised] in the first half of the 20th century

    Kathryn Hughes, Guardian
  • Hugely informative and adhesively readable

    John Carey, Sunday Times
  • Stunning ... every syllable seems perfectly positioned for pitch, stress, euphony and evocative power; the brilliant vignettes of the anthropologists’ leisure moments … the vividness with which their private lives, sexual intrigues and secret thoughts are captured … elegant and entertaining

    Literary Review
  • An intellectual adventure story of the best sort - elegantly written, thought-provoking and full of biographical riches

    SARAH BAKEWELL, author of At the Existentialist Café
  • Charles King, author of this illuminating biographical history [has] a great gift for nicely balanced epigrammatic prose … as King writes with a typically fine flourish, Boas can be seen to have been “on the front line of the greatest moral battle of our time” and he, along with the talented women who learnt from him, won out in the end

    Lucy Hughes-Hallett, New Statesman
  • Written with verve and authority, this exciting – even entrancing – story follows the first cultural anthropologists to far-flung field sites that suggested antidotes to the racism and xenophobia of society

    DAVA SOBEL, author of Longitude
  • Stunning. Wickedly perceptive, a scholarly masterpiece

    DAVID OSHINSKY, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Polio
  • Elegant and kaleidoscopic … this looks to be the perfect moment for King’s resolutely humane book

    NEW YORK TIMES
  • Deeply intelligent and immensely readable

    Alison Gopnik, Atlantic
  • The notion of cultural relativism was as unique in its way as was Einstein’s theory of relativity in the discipline of physics, a shattering of the European mind. This remarkable book explains why. Franz Boas’s intuitions and insights, distilled in theory and practice by generations of scholars, a lineage that includes Ruth Benedict, Margaret Mead, and Zora Neale Hurston, all brilliantly portrayed in the book, continue to inform contemporary anthropology, allowing the discipline to stand today as the antidote to nativism and the poisonous rhetoric of political demagogues. The entire purpose of anthropology, wrote Ruth Benedict, is to make the world safe for human differences. Never has the voice of anthropology been more important, and the arrival of this astonishing book can only be described as a gift to us all

    Wade Davis, author of Into the Silence

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