Human Cycle

The Human Cycle
by Colin M. Turnbull

Simon & Schuster
SH, C, GA *


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Turnbull gives us the benefit of his personal experiences in various societies, including Great Britain's, in this work on the long-neglected topic of life cycles. The work is highly anecdotal but carries off a review of the importance of rites of passage and intensification in the socialization of humans in very good form. The topic is divided into five sections related to age, as one would expect. Each division consists of a summary treatment of the nature of the passage in one or another of the societies that have occupied Turnbull in his past ethnological endeavors. The nature of the passage in that group is then compared with Turnbull's own passages, and the section is summarized with personal evaluations of the relative merits of each of the passages in each of the societies as socializing mechanisms. The final chapter is a case for the review of our own socialization process and a plea for deemphasis of competition in favor of cooperation, and for a shifting of emphasis from legalism ''to a belief system that made of morality a rewarding experience rather than a penance'' (p. 283). To any anthropologist, this latest contribution from Turnbull will seem to state the obvious. However, to lay readers the work should be both informative regarding the nature of life outside Euro-American society as well as edifying where Euro-American concerns are considered.

-- Hardcover version reviewed by Calvin H. Jennings in Science Books and Films, 19/2 (November/December 1983), p. 67.