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People Of The Deer [Mass Market Paperback]

Farley Mowat
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 1 1984
THEY WERE IN HARMONY WITH THE LAND BUT THEY WERE ON THE BRINK OF EXTINCTION
Sixty years ago, the Ihalmiut numbered 7,000. When Farely Mowat visited them, their population had dwindled to forty. For two years, Mowat shared their hard life--the bleak winters, the shortages of food, the fervent struggle to withstand the intrusion of white men--and came to understand them. Here, Farely Mowat indicts those who have abused the Ihalmiut. But, foremost, he pays tribute to the last of the People of the Deer--the proud, valiant Eskimos, desperately trying to survive.

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"A beautifully written book...Mowat's challenge cannot be ignored."
-Saturday Night

From the Publisher

"A beautifully written book...Mowat's challenge cannot be ignored."
-Saturday Night --This text refers to an alternate Mass Market Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable first book from promising author! April 3 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
First published in 1947 and available in a wide variety of editions since then, Farley Mowat's first and most distant book is still remarkably readable in the world of the 21st century. It concerns one of the stranger human sagas of the last century, that of the discovery and destruction of a remote Inuit society, the Ihalmiut, in Canada's north. The setting of the book is far enough away in time for us to marvel at how little things have changed since. The contemptuous attitude of European man for the aborigine seems hardly to have altered over the years. We are still hard put to understand the needs of the first peoples and how to answer them.
Farley Mowat has combined a fine sensitivity for the natural environment with a sharp eye for the details of man's place within it. It must be exceedingly rare in the history of anthropology that such an inexperienced investigator has taken such pains to get to the source of his information. Mowat lived among the Ihalmiut for over a year to write the book. During that time he witnessed the rapid deterioration of the small group which remained, and tried to examine the causes of their decline. With very deft prose for such a young writer, he points out the difference between the intentions and the actions of the European discoverers of The People (as they refer to themselves) and the consequences of such disparity. The Ihalmiut were exploited in much the same way as any other tribal band found wandering by the early explorers. However, as Mowat points out, this was an exceptional group which had survived the extreme rigours of a barren land (known to us simply as The Barrens) for so many generations, only to be felled by contact with the very race which might have provided them with so much assistance.
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By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Insightfully reviews the impact of white-men's view of civilization and values upon the communities of the Artic Native American. It provides a sad picture of how these values have produced the demise of these tight-knit communities, so much a part of traditional Indian societies. If you want a real picture of how it is in Native America, this is it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read, but is it really non-fiction? Feb. 15 2010
By A. Volk #1 REVIEWER #1 HALL OF FAME
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
To start with, this book is a tragic story of the Inland Inuit of Northern Canada in the mid/late-1940s. Mowat ventures North to escape the horrors of WW2, and ends up meeting the fascinating people known as the Ilhamiut, or People of the Deer. Mowat then proceeds to tell a hauntingly beautiful story of how these people were set up to become dependent on white men (trading their spears and deer for guns and fox pelts) only to be screwed when the money went (literally) south and they were left with neither the tools (ammunition) or knowledge (traditional deer hunting techniques) that they needed to fight off hunger and its attendant companion, disease. He returns a second year, and learns their language before going off on a long canoe trip to help a biologist peer find the caribou herds that are no longer around the Ilhamiut. At the end of the book, as well as throughout it, Mowat is scathing in his reproach of the white men who took callous, or deliberate, advantage of the Inuit, as well as the government that failed to do anything of significance to help them. This book did tremendous service in bringing the plight of the Inuit, and of Northern Aboriginals in general, to light for the general Canadian public.

In this light, it's a fantastic book. The stories are fascinating, the people are compelling, and the scenery is awesome. I quite enjoyed reading it. There's just one problem keeping it from getting a full five stars: it might not be 100% accurate.

Yes, much has been raised about a 1996 criticism of the book by John Goddard. But I place less stock in that report than from an actual peer-reviewed anthropological journal, Man (1955, pg. 108-109) that published a formal review of the book that questioned a few key facts in the book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In many ways, this is Farley Mowat's most enduring book. It tells the true story of a Native American people killed by modernization--a brutal story that should make us think when we preach human rights and respect for others' cultures--not that our failings preempt us from speaking out, but as an injection of humility. I first read this book 20 years ago and it has stuck with me since them. I'm really sorry that it's out of print because it makes a great gift.
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