Anne Robinson, Karen Saxby
Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award From an award-winning historian comes a dazzling history of the birth of cultural anthropology and the adventurous scientists who pioneered it--a sweeping chronicle of discovery and the fascinating origin story of our multicultural world. A century ago, everyone knew that people were fated by their race, sex, and nationality to be more or less intelligent, nurturing, or warlike. But Columbia University professor Franz Boas looked at the data and decided everyone was wrong. Racial categories, he insisted, were biological fictions. Cultures did not come in neat packages labeled "primitive" or "advanced." What counted as a family, a good meal, or even common sense was a product of history and circumstance, not of nature. In Gods of the Upper Air, a masterful narrative history of radical ideas and passionate lives, Charles King shows how these intuitions led to a fundamental reimagining of human diversity.