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The Hadza: Hunter-Gatherers of Tanzania [Paperback]

Frank Marlowe
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

March 23 2010 Origins of Human Behavior and Culture (Book 3)
In The Hadza, Frank Marlowe provides a quantitative ethnography of one of the last remaining societies of hunter-gatherers in the world. The Hadza, who inhabit an area of East Africa near the Serengeti and Olduvai Gorge, have long drawn the attention of anthropologists and archaeologists for maintaining a foraging lifestyle in a region that is key to understanding human origins. Marlowe ably applies his years of research with the Hadza to cover the traditional topics in ethnography—subsistence, material culture, religion, and social structure. But the book’s unique contribution is to introduce readers to the more contemporary field of behavioral ecology, which attempts to understand human behavior from an evolutionary perspective. To that end, The Hadza also articulates the necessary background for readers whose exposure to human evolutionary theory is minimal.

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Review

“This quantitative ethnography . . . introduces readers to the contemporary field of understanding human behaviour from an evolutionary perspective.”
(Times Higher Ed Supp (Thes) 2010-07-08)

“Riveting. . . . It is the most important single source of information about the Hadza, and it is superb, combining many of the virtues of classical ethnography with rigorous quantitative description and experimental hypothesis testing. ”
(Melvin Konner American Scientist 2011-01-01)

“Thought-provoking.”
(Choice 2011-01-01)

From the Inside Flap

"A special and rare kind of ethnography, skillfully blending detailed description of behavior with thoughtful commentary on theoretical issues. Exceptionally important and enduring."—Bruce Winterhalder, co-editor of Evolutionary Ecology and Human Behavior

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very detailed view of the Hadza June 25 2010
By A. Volk #1 REVIEWER #1 HALL OF FAME
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Frank Marlowe is an evolutionary anthropologist who has been studying the Hadza for almost two decades. The Hadza are a very rare society- despite being surrounded by an increasingly present "modern" world, they have chosen to largely continue living the life of their ancestors. Life as hunter-gatherers. Marlowe's book is a detailed summary of many aspects of Hadza life, taken from an evolutionary perspective. The book is divided into different topical chapters, each with a brief 2-4 page introduction to the relevant evolutionary theory. This makes it accessible to those outside of evolutionary research. The chapters themselves are full of interesting data on topics such as: parenting, mating, demographics, hunting-gathering efficiency, social organization, material culture, etc.

There's not a lot to write about as the book is quite simply the best book on the Hadza out there, and it has enough information for anyone interested in the Hadza, evolutionary anthropology, or hunter-gatherers in general, to appreciate it. What's more, Marlowe contends that the Hadza are the "average" hunter-gatherer, and thus they can offer perhaps the best glimpse into what life was like for our ancestors. In this regard, I think Marlowe potentially oversells his point that the Hadza are THE average hunter-gatherer group. But I am certainly sympathetic to the belief that they can offer us a lot of information about how some of our ancestors may have lived. The book appears to be written for an academic audience, but the writing is accessible enough for anyone interested in anthropology to easily understand it. When there is academic terminology, it is always introduced at the beginning of the chapter. The book has enough anecdotes and enough of Marlowe's personal thoughts to make it more than just an academic exercise, so it's easy for me to give it a very strong recommendation- five stars.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wondrous addition to the literature on the hunter-gatherer way of life Jan. 29 2012
By Geoff Bond - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Frank Marlowe has spent many years in the field researching this extraordinary hunter-gatherer tribe, the Hadzas - and this book is an eminently readable distillation of his work. For professionals it is a rich source of information and ground-breaking insights. For the lay reader, it is a fascinating and eye-opening account of what life must have been like for us humans for eons in our evolutionary past.

Marlowe is conscious that the Hadza are in a way an oddity. They have maintained their ancient way of life in spite of outside efforts from missionaries and governments, and external pressure from surrounding tribes like the Masai. Where necessary he points up where they differ from other savanna forager models such as the !Kung San as exemplified by Richard Lee's classic studies in the 1960s. See his book: Kalahari Hunter-Gatherers.

For example, compared to the San, the Hadza seem to be less territorial and less confrontational. If someone tries to boss them around, they just move away or even move to another camp. There are only a few hundred Hadza in total so they seem to regard themselves as one big extended family rather than (as with other foragers) a collection of rival bands maintaining bitter-sweet relations with each other.

It is refreshing to find that Marlowe is not infected with the starry-eyed ideals of the `noble savage' or the grotesque aberrations of the Standard Social Science Model (SSSM) promoted by (notably) Franz Boas, Margaret Mead, Richard Lewontin and Steven J. Gould. (For a fine debunking of the SSSM see Steven Pinker's book: The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature.) So it is that Marlowe drily reports on the men always on the lookout to have extra-marital affairs; on stepfathers, in spite of their protestations to the contrary, giving preference to their biological offspring; on males being fiercely sexually jealous (leading sometimes to murder); on gender roles being specific - men hunt (and do it alone), women forage (and do it in parties of average size 5).

The range of phenomena Marlowe reports on is truly startling: In a lifetime on average, Hadza women only menstruate 100 times, compared to 400 times with western women; boys get their first bow and arrows at the age of three (and spend hours a day practising); grandmothers provide more food than any other group; baobab paste is weaning food; squabbles are more prevalent in bigger camps than smaller; for protection, the foraging party of women bring along a young boy armed with his bow and arrows; scavenged meat (often rotten) gives them stomach aches - but they still eat it; fruits provide 40% by weight of the diet in camp; male body-fat percentage is 10 and female 18; the pull on an average Hadza bow is high at 69 lb; falling out of baobab trees is a notable cause of death in old age; women walk 5.5 km per day when foraging, men 8.3 km per day when hunting;...

There is so much more, most of it seriously scientific. That makes this book a valuable work of reference in naturally adapted human behavior, feeding patterns, physical activity, spirituality, and lifestyle generally. It provides rich material for studies like mine where we analyze and describe how lifestyle diseases typified by cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes etc. are due to the mismatch between the way we live today and the lifestyle designed by our hunter-gatherer evolutionary past.

As an evolutionary lifestyle anthropologist, I fully recognize the unique contribution this book makes to our state of knowledge, and this encyclopedic information would have provided enriching backup for my own (but earlier) book Deadly Harvest: Our past, present and future diets - and why we should care.

I thoroughly recommend Marlowe's book to anyone interested in understanding what it means to live like nature intended - and of course, anyone studying evolutionary anthropology and related fields.

Oh, and by the way - for those new to such topics, Marlowe helpfully provides simple introductions to the ideas of natural selection (Darwin), altruism within blood relations (Hamilton), parent/child conflict (Trivers), and game theory to explain sharing patterns within groups (Maynard Smith).
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good source of information about the Hadza Jan. 30 2011
By Karine Ardault - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
The Hadza are the last tribe of hunter-gatherers in Tanzania. I had the opportunity to visit a group of this tribe (they are located close to Lake Eyasi in Northern Tanzania). I read this book just after my visit to the tribe and it was a good way to learn more about the Hadza.
I definitly did not find it borring any minute. It is well documented and full of explanation. I would definitly recommand it.
Of course it is an ethnology/antropology book which contains a lot of data. Not being a specialist I concentrated more on the narrative part and I found it very informative.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Information for Early Man's Lifestyle Dec 15 2012
By Bopaticu - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is exactly what I hoped for and expected. It is an excellent review of the hunter gatherer lifestyle in a scientific format. Today a lot of people are looking into the history of the hunter gatherer and paleolithic man's lifestyle, to get information to use for their own healthy existence. This book describes, in detail, the habits of day to day, month to month, and year to year activities. Because of the scientific format it is not at all an easy read, so if you are looking for step by step instructions this isn't the book for you.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book Feb. 22 2014
By Jaunetta H. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's an easy read but still explains the complexity of hunter/gatherers quite well. I would recommend it for any interested in anthropology or human behavioral ecology. Very well written.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great read! June 7 2012
By Dr. Alex Shvartsman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book. A detailed look into one of the last remaining hunter gatherer people. A window in to our past.
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