Eat Thy Neighbour : A History of Cannibalism Hardback
Cannibalism is unquestionably one of the oldest and deepest-seated taboos.
Even in an age when almost nothing is sacred, religious, moral and social prohibitions surround the topic.
But even as our minds recoil at the mention of actual acts of cannibalism there is some dark fascination with the subject.
Appalling crimes of humans eating other humans are blown into major news stories and gory movies: both Hitchcock's "Psycho" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" were based on the crimes of Ed Gein, who is profiled, along with others, in this book.
In "Eat Thy Neighbour", the authors put the subject of cannibalism into its social and historical perspective.
They present a lively and informative account of cannibalism, and cannibals, from the earliest known incidents to the present day. They include cases of ritual cannibalism in early and primitive societies such the inhabitants of Papua New Guinea; cases where famine, poverty, disease or war has left no alternative; cases in mythology, legend, literature, and fairytales like "Hansel and Gretel"; and cases of individuals from the Middle Ages to the present - Mrs Lovett and Sweeny Todd, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Armin Meiwes, the recent German cannibal who found his victim via the internet.
- Format: Hardback
- Pages: 256 pages, 12 black and white illustrations
- Publisher: The History Press Ltd
- Publication Date: 24/08/2006
- Category: True crime
- ISBN: 9780750943727
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Review by PirateJenny
This is a pretty good overview for the layperson. Well, for people who don't know much about cannibalism--I really don't mean for non-cannibals. Really. Cause ew. Ritual and situational cannibalism are covered in the first half (or almost half, really) of the book, while the rest is an overview of some of the best-known criminal cannibal cases. I did learn some stuff I didn't know, actually. Like the fact that while Alfred Packer was sentenced to death, the sentence was never carried out, and that archaeological evidence now supports his story. All the shows on the History or Learning channels make it seem as if Packer was executed. I also learned that cannibalism has long been a problem in Germany, so there really should have been laws on the books by the time Armin Miewes came around. So if you wanna learn about some stomach-turning criminal cannibals, this is a good book. (And I'm really glad the subject, while it fascinates me, still makes my stomach turn.)