Power Nap

by John J. Miller on August 6, 2010

in Blog Posts

  • Sumo

One of my favorite periodicals is Traverse, which is basically a lifestyle magazine for northern Michigan. I’ve written for it a couple of times–articles about Civil War historian Bruce Catton and conservative bookworm Russell Kirk.

The current issue carries an interview with Napoleon Chagnon, one of the most important anthropologists of his generation. A Michigan native who spent much of his professional life in the jungles of South America, he retired to the environs of Traverse City. A decade ago, I visited him for a long sit-down interview, which led to an article in National Review.

The occasion was a controversy. Patrick Tierney, a journalist, had leveled extraordinary accusations against Chagnon. He charged the anthropologist with spreading a deadly disease among primitive tribes in order to study the gruesome results. The allegations appeared in a book, but before that they were excerpted in The New Yorker, giving them a platform and an imprimatur that most writers can only dream about.

My article caused a minor stir because it was one of the first attempts to debunk Tierney’s startling claims. The accusations haven’t entirely gone away and the interview in Traverse brings the story up to date. There are also some useful links at the bottom, for readers who really want to dive into the matter.

So enjoy the interview–and then maybe check out the rest of Traverse, such as its Michigan wine recommendations.

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