Heathens: Primitive Man and His Religions

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9780881332407: Heathens: Primitive Man and His Religions
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The Heathens, originally published in 1948, is a description of many of the world's religions by an anthropologist who had a knack for putting complex concepts in popular terms. Although, to our late 20th century sensibilities, the language may sound demeaning and/or patronizing, in fact, once the reader realizes the book's historical setting, it is clear that the author is a gifted communicator and a skillful popularizer. His descriptions were so respected that in 1962 the book was reprinted by The American Museum of Natural History Library for inclusion in its offerings.

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It has been fifty years since William Howells wrote his description of what was then known as "primitive religion." Although we would not dare to use that term today, we are still very curious about the practices and beliefs of the remote peoples of the world. This book has been a very popular text over the years in the study of religion and cultural anthropology. The descriptions of magic and ritual are still known as some of the best in print. It is interesting to note that most tenured professors(the present experts in the field of anthropology of religion(got their first look at "primitive religion" through the words of William S. Howells in this classic book.

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