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In this brilliant and profound study the distinguished American anthropologist Marvin Harris shows how the endless varieties of cultural behavior -- often so puzzling at first glance -- can be explained as adaptations to particular ecological conditions. His aim is to account for the evolution of cultural forms as Darwin accounted for the evolution of biological forms: to show how cultures adopt their characteristic forms in response to changing ecological modes.

"[A] magisterial interpretation of the rise and fall of human cultures and societies."

-- Robert Lekachman, Washington Post Book World

"Its persuasive arguments asserting the primacy of cultural rather than genetic or psychological factors in human life deserve the widest possible audience."

-- Gloria Levitas The New Leader

"[An] original and...urgent theory about the nature of man and at the reason that human cultures take so many diverse shapes."

-- The New Yorker

"Lively and controversial."

-- I. Bernard Cohen, front page, The New York Times Book Review

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