Friday, November 12, 2010

Book Review: People of The Deer

Book Review: People of The Deer by Farley Mowat

I didn't want to read this book but as I have this challenge going on right now . . . well, I picked it up. Apparently (not sure if this is true, but it's Mowat's first book. It's a book of one man's expedition and falling in love with the People of the deer, the inland eskimos who inhabit the barrens of the arctic. In many ways it is a tragedy. The inland Inuit of Canada's north in the mid/late-1940s suffered disease, starvation, and neglect by the rest of Canada. Mowat ends up finding and chronicling the fascinating people known as the Ilhamiut, or People of the Deer. Mowat tells a sad story of how an entire culture of people were set up to become dependent on white men -trading their spears and deer for guns and fox pelts- only to be abandoned when the money went (literally) south and they were left with neither the tools (ammunition) or knowledge (traditional deer hunting techniques) that they needed to fight off hunger and its attendant companion, disease. He eventually learns their language before going off on a long canoe trip to help a biologist peer find the caribou. Many crazy and unexplained things happen along the way, some which may make the hair on your neck stand up. Apparently this book was very helpful in bringing the plight of the Inuit to light for the general Canadian public. I most enjoyed the story of a culture that no longer exists. Mowat carefully shares both the good and bad points of it and you can't help but fall in love with them yourself. He gets almost a little too poetic at points (for my taste) but I enjoyed the book overall. I'd give it 4.1 ninja stars out of 5.

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