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Savage Harvest

Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism and Michael Rockefeller’s Tragic Quest for Primitive Art

Carl Hoffman

An Amazon Best Book, 2014

The mysterious disappearance of Michael Rockefeller in New Guinea in 1961 has kept the world and his powerful, influential family guessing for years. Now, Carl Hoffman uncovers startling new evidence that finally tells the full, astonishing story.

Despite exhaustive searches, no trace of Rockefeller was ever found. Soon after his disappearance, rumours surfaced that he’d been killed and ceremonially eaten by the local Asmat—a native tribe of warriors whose complex culture was built around sacred, reciprocal violence, head hunting and ritual cannibalism. The Dutch government and the Rockefeller family denied the story, and Michael’s death was officially ruled a drowning. Yet doubts lingered. Sensational rumours and stories circulated, fuelling speculation and intrigue for decades. The real story has long waited to be told—until now. 


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Carl Hoffman
About the Author

Carl Hoffman is a contributing editor at National Geographic Traveler. Savage Harvestis his third book. His second, The Lunatic Express: Discovering the World Via Its Most Dangerous Buses, Boats, Trains and Planes, was named one of the ten best books of 2010 by the Wall Street Journaland was a New York Timessummer reading pick. He has won four...

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Text publication date:
23 July 2014
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Praise for Carl Hoffman
andSavage Harvest

‘The most brilliantly told adventure to come out of New Guinea.’

Savage Harvest is a gripping read, and though Hoffman’s conclusion may be familiar, he’s erected a solid foundation of reporting that goes far beyond what the rest of us did and is likely to make this the definitive account.’

‘A taut thriller…Hoffman goes further than anyone in describing the charged political backdrop and the dynamics of Asmat society that surrounded Rockefeller’s disappearance…in this gripping book.’

‘In an expertly told tale begging for a film adaptation, Hoffman crafts a remarkable, balanced examination of this sensational case…[He] deserves much credit for this riveting, multilayered tale.’

‘In his terrific and often gruesome new book, Savage Harvest, travel journalist Carl Hoffman, who lives in Washington, reopens the case, travelling to Papua New Guinea and coming back with a riveting tale.’

‘Carl Hoffman once-and-for-all solves the mystery of where the search went wrong, who the Asmat people are, and what really happened to Michael Rockefeller.’

‘An opening that is so intense, so captivating, so interesting that no human with a beating heart can put the book down…Compelling. Intoxicating. Sensational.’

‘An extraordinary, blood-curdling, true-life thriller…[Hoffman] provides a remarkable picture of the mysterious forces behind this still largely unknown culture.’

‘First-rate journalistic non-fiction…an intriguing tale.’

‘One of the most fascinating reads in recent times…Fluid and riveting…an absorbing and compelling read.’

‘Carefully researched, oddly evocative and beautifully written.’

‘Grimly fascinating’

Other editions ofSavage Harvest
  • Savage Harvest
    ISBN: 9781925095456
    23 July 2014
    Buy ebook