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Who Will Remember the People . . .

Who Will Remember the People . . .

by Jean Raspail, Jeremy Leggatt (Translator)

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Reading this searing, strangely beautiful historical novel is a transformative experience. It centers on the Alacalufs, an actual tribe of short, bowlegged sea nomadsnow extinctwho eked out a living off Tierra del Fuego at the southernmost tip of South America. Hunting albatrosses and cormorants, living in wigwams, sniffing out williwaws or violent winds, the Alacalufs (who called themselves Kaweskar, ``the People'') might have continued their peaceful lifestyle,had it not been for European intruders. French ethnologist Raspail first delineates fictional Lafko, the last surviving Kaweskar, and his family, then shuttles back and forth as Magellan, King Philip, Catholic missionaries and a highly unsympathetic Charles Darwin all take part in the story of this tribe's doom. In the late 1800s captive Alacalufs were exhibited as fairground freaks in France. In exposing the cruelty and racist ethnocentrism of white Europeans, Raspail shows that they, not the Alacalufs, were the ``savages.'' Winner of three French prizes, this fiercely eloquent, heartbreaking novel is emblematic of Europe's conquest/discovery of America. (September)
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
YA-- The People were a Stone Age tribe who migrated from Siberia to Tierra del Fuego over the course of several millennia and subsisted in the harsh climate of the subarctic for several more. This novel artfully tells the tale of their migration and existence until their extinction in the early 20th century. Raspail manages the sad tale by giving the characters through the ages the same names. Readers will often be unsure of the time period, but this timelessness emphasizes the point. The People made few technological discoveries during these years, and the European discoverers' arrival was their first interaction with other humans in a thousand years. This interaction with modern society, and particularly missionaries, led to their extinction as they lost the ability to fend for themselves. The first chapter is so grim that readers may hesitate to continue, but the book is so well written and insightful that persistence will be rewarded. Not only do readers learn of a real people in fictional guise; there is also description of methods used by the early geographers and explorers, and of the church's efforts to convert The People. Where Auel's Clan of the Cave Bear (Crown, 1980) was a romantic reenactment of prehistoric life, this power-packed book is incisive and terse. It may not be for everyone, but those who bother will remember.-- Dorcas Hand, Episcopal High School, Bellaire, TX

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Mercury House
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