How Euroman Changed the World
AUTHOR: Niehoff, Arthur
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Takeover is anthropology/social history with an ingenious twist. In order to get across the significance of European man's dominance of world cultures since 1492 and Columbus, Niehoff introduces a SF element - portraying a 2020 world dominated by aliens, to whom the oldest living anthropologist relates his account of the rise of 'Euroman' via a sentient computer. This device not only reinforces the totality of 'alien' Euroman's impact on the cultures he dominated, but also allows Niehoff some asides about the history and value of anthropology as a social science, as well as some pleasing personal touches relating to 20th century life (e.g. changing from cigarettes to pipe smoking, then giving up). Each chapter follows the same basic formula: a dialogue between the computer (Mary) and Peter Hermann, the anthropog (presumably a mouthpiece for Niehoff, but set 25 years in the future), which gives way to a direct address to the reader on whichever cultural topic has thus been introduced. It is to the author's credit that his regular style is so conversational and down-to-earth that one hardly notices the change in voice...
The computer tells Hermann,...'I was designed to maintain rapport. Without it, I would hardly have been able to keep you interested enough...' but even without this admittedly effective gimmick, Takeover manages to be an informative and forward-looking study of modern man and his methods, as well as being a thoroughly entertaining read. Niehoff is remarkably candid and unbiased in relating the dark underside of Euroman's expansion practices. 'The Americans did write a noble document about freedom, however, which take care of the contradictions by simply not mentioning them.'...'the American signers of the noble documents were almost all better off male landowners, many of whom were also slave-holders, and practically all of whom were Indian eliminators.'...
Altogether a splendid starting point for newcomers to anthropology.
Niel K. Henderson, New Hope International Review, London.
PUBLICATION DATE: 12/1/1990