Thursday, 8 March 2018

Review: Warrior Herdsmen

Warrior Herdsmen Warrior Herdsmen by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

In a post-colonial Africa and before the modern age had overtaken events, the Dodoth were the people who had inhabited the northern fringe of Uganda. The anthropologist Elizabeth Thomas was fortunate to be able to visit these people and live among them for three expeditions. Whilst there she dovetailed in with the people and learnt to understand their traditions, customs and way of life.

Thomas immersed herself in their way of life, experiencing everything in their community, she describes their way of life from sowing seeds to collecting the harvests, seeing cattle bled from the veins in the neck to provide food for the tribe, the shamanic rituals of reading the intestines to gauge the future and witness the men would ready themselves for battle against the raids from the Turkana telling the gripping accounts of a the raids and battles between the two main tribes of the area.

It is a snapshot of a way of life that was never to be the same again. Not only is the modern world just appearing in these people's lives as spears give way to guns but this was shortly before the brutal regime of Idi Amin took over and their entire culture was diluted somewhat. This books leans heavily towards anthropology rather than purely travel writing, but it is no less fascinating despite that. Thomas takes time to understand the people, their way of life and the subtle nuances in their personal relationships as well as sharing their successes and tribulations. The writing is clear without being dry and academical helping you grow an emotional bond with the Dodoth people as they go about their daily lives. An interesting book that was well worth the time to read it.

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  1. This sounds amazing, I love older anthropology and travel books. I've come to your blog via Bookish Beck's post about the Wellcome Prize shadow panel; it's rare to come across other book bloggers who are big non-fiction fans so I'll be staying to have a look around!

  2. Hi Liz, Welcome. I read an awful lot of non-fiction so I am sure you'll be quite at home here


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