A BOOK REVIEW: Gods of the Upper Air by Charles King (2019)

I haven’t posted much in recent months, but I felt compelled to give a plug for this great book. It is readable, engaging, educational and imminently worthwhile in many ways. King has crafted a great story about the circle of groundbreaking cultural anthropologists who studied with the renowned Frank Boas. His subjects include Boas, Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict, Zora Neale Hurston, and many others.

The story King tells is relevant to most of the big issues facing our country today. Through the life stories of the early anthropologists, he reviews America’s long-standing struggle with race, white supremacy, xenophobia, and gender identity. It is really eye-opening. For example, I had always thought of Hurston as a great Black writer—I had no idea that much of her work was inspired by the Boas circle.

Along the way the reader will become familiar with some of the most important concepts in cultural anthropology. For anyone who feels a need to speak out on racism, white supremacy, immigration, gender identity, and other issues that still trouble our country, this book is a great way to get reliable background information.

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