Rescued Account of a Vanished People

Science  18 Sep 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5384, pp. 1813-1814
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5384.1813

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Chronicle of the Guayaki Indians. Pierre Clastres. Translated by Paul Auster. Zone Books, New York, 1998. 352 pp. $25.50, £21.95. ISBN 0-942299-77-9. Paper, Faber and Faber, London. 253 pp. £9.99. ISBN 0-571-19398-6.

Chronicle is the French political anthropologist's account of his first fieldwork, two years in the early 1960s spent with a small, now vanished, group inhabiting the Paraguayan rainforest. Clastres provides illuminating descriptions of a lost culture, transactions between cultures, and the practice of anthropology. The translation, by novelist Paul Auster, captures the original's freshness, sense of humor, and intellectual insight.