In conversation with Don George.
In Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller’s Tragic Quest for Primitive Art ($26.99), Carl Hoffman not only solves a decades-old mystery but narrates the fate of a culture and a people whose way of life changed dramatically over years of colonial rule, but whose memories and lore remain detailed and alive. Hoffman gives them—and Michael Rockefeller—voice in an unforgettable and engrossing journalistic tour de force.
Through exhaustive archival research in the Netherlands and the U.S., he uncovers hundreds of pages of never-before-seen original letters, cables, reports, and other documents from the Dutch government and the Catholic Church and locates witnesses willing to speak publically after 50 years, all revealing that the government and local Church authorities had carefully investigated the case, knew what happened to Michael, yet chose to remain silent to the public and even Michael’s own parents.
Hoffman’s fascinating account is a masterful blend of thriller and ethnography, an expertly told who-dunnit that will mesmerize readers with its intimate, detailed, and harrowing account of Asmat life in Michael’s time, and ours. Brought to life by photographs from the 1950s and 1960s and Hoffman’s two journeys to Asmat in 2012, Savage Harvest is a story of history, art, colonialism, adventure, and traveling deep into an enigmatic culture to untangle a clash between two worlds that resulted in the death of one of America’s richest and most powerful scions.
Carl Hoffman is a contributing editor at National Geographic Traveler His second book, The Lunatic Express: Discovering the World Via It’s Most Dangerous Buses, Boats, Trains and Planes, was named one of ten best books of 2010 by the Wall Street Journal and was a New York Times summer reading pick. He has won four Lowell Thomas Awards from the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation and one North American Travel Journalism Award. A veteran journalist, he has traveled to more than 70 countries on assignment for Outside, Smithsonian, National Geographic Adventure, ESPN The Magazine, the Wall Street Journal magazine, Wired, and many other publications. He is a native of Washington, D.C. and is the father of three children.
The mysterious disappearance of Michael Rockefeller in remote New Guinea in 1961 has kept the world, and even Michael's powerful, influential family, guessing for years. Now, Carl Hoffman uncovers startling new evidence that finally tells the full, astonishing story.