Gods of the Upper Air by Charles King

Gods of the Upper Air

A dazzling group portrait of Franz Boas, the founder of cultural anthropology, and his circle of women scientists, who upended American notions of race, gender, and sexuality in the 1920s and 1930s--a sweeping chronicle of how our society began to question the basic ways we understand other cultures and ourselves.At the end of the 19th century, everyone knew that people were defined by their race and sex and were fated by birth and biology to be ...

Details Gods of the Upper Air

TitleGods of the Upper Air
Release DateAug 6th, 2019
PublisherDoubleday Books
GenreNonfiction, History, Anthropology, Science, Biography, Sociology

Reviews Gods of the Upper Air

  • Mehrsa
    A really fascinating history of Margaret Mead, Boaz, Hurston and others who challenged and upended (at least for a little while) some crazy backwards thinking on the essentiality of race. Cultural relativism has been attacked by the right for a while, but it's amazing to go back and remember that before it, the scientific thinking was so....well, so...primitive.
  • Peter A
    This is a brilliantly told story of the lives of several important individuals; their collective story addressing with data and science issues of race, sex, and gender; the scientific and social context and history within which they worked; and their impact on the then nascent field of cultural anthropology and the impact that it has made on society. The story includes the turbulent lives of the protagonists, the struggle and conflict that new id...
  • Rose
    This is nonfiction written in novel form. It is a wonderful read for any fan of anthropology or anyone who wants tho learn about cultures. I highly enjoyed this book recommend it. I would like to thank netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy free of charge. This is my honest and unbiased opinion of it.
  • Marks54
    This is a collective biography of one of the principal groups behind the rise of cultural anthropology and the idea of cultural relativism. The key individuals of this group include Franz Boas, Ruth Benedict, and Margaret Mead. There are other members of the group, of course, but Boas, Benedict, and Mead are the key actors. This group has proven extraordinarily influential and even well read and open minded readers may not appreciate their influe...
  • Mac Hendrickson
    Masterpiece. Recommended reading for every American
  • Peg (Marianna) DeMott
    Powerful! Recommended reading for people who wonder where we are in the world and just how we got here!
  • Stephanie G. Lewis
    Learned a lot. Want to read again.
  • Lisa
    I was an anthropology student in the '70s, and this enlightening, engrossing, beautifully written book reminded me why I was so passionate about it and how studying it fundamentally and forever changed my worldview . . . Want to better understand the reasons why racism, sexism, and bigotry of all kinds are utterly indefensible — and how a group of visionary adventuring scientists came to understand and teach that? Want to grow a deep love for ...
  • Alan
    Interesting. I read Malinowski, Benedict, Boas, Kroeber, Linton, Sapir, Mead, back in the 70s. Mead was then a hippie and feminist icon. I never knew much of their biographies, and wasn't at all familiar with Zora Hurston as an anthropologist.
  • Tom Griffiths
    I enjoyed this book more than the review would seem. My issue was the enormous level of detsil on the anthropologist love lives. I just dont care about that. The rest was grest.
  • Mark
    This is an involving and brilliant window into a small community of scientists. They attempted to show that there is one common humanity, even though vivid differences are what attracts the eye. This book also documents their opposition, which continues to insist on racial superiority for currently privelidged groups.The personal lives of these people serve as vivid threads that drive the narrative forward.
  • Gwen
    "The most enduring prejudices are the comfortable ones, those hidden up close: seeing the world as it is, requires some distance, a view from the upper air". (Franz Boas)I appreciated the context this book provides for looking at why our current iteration of culture wars are so hotly felt. Important historical and cultural mirror for the nationalist tremors surfacing yet again.If only we could all heed this sound advice: "Work hard at distancing ...
  • Avid
    I was only able to get through the first 3 chapters, although i enjoyed what i read. It’s just too much information for a casual reader. Also, i was drawn to the book because of the part of the description which included women’s early contributions to the study and definition of anthropology, but after three chapters, all i got was franz boas - not a woman in sight. I can’t wait forever to get to the part for which i chose to invest in the ...
  • Vicki Skywark
    If I had read this book when a student of anthropology, I’d have been a better student. It’s not only revelatory in terms of the lives it sketches and their theories of culture, it illustrates how far America has come intellectually yet how backwards Americans continue to be.
  • Chad Brock