Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture

Front Cover
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Jul 13, 2011 - Social Science - 288 pages
8 Reviews
One of America's leading anthropolgists offers solutions to the perplexing question of why people behave the way they do.

Why do Hindus worship cows? Why do Jews and Moslems refuse to eat pork? Why did so many people in post-medieval Europe believe in witches?

Marvin Harris answers these and other perplexing questions about human behavior, showing that no matter how bizarre a people's behavior may seem, it always stems from identifiable and intelligble sources.

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - keneumey - LibraryThing

I did not like this book. It never occurred to me to question why Hindus would rather starve than eat a sacred cow. This book seemed to me to be an old white guys anthropological "opinion," giving Western explanations for cultural practices. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - keristars - LibraryThing

Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches has often been cited in discussions about why religious customs are the way they are. I've seen it mentioned all over the web in the last ten years or so, but it was ... Read full review

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2011)

Marvin Harris taught at Columbia University from 1953 and from 1963 to 1966 was Chairman of the Department of Anthropology.  He has lectured by invitation at most of the major colleges and universities in the United States. In addition to field work in Brazil, Mozambique, and Ecuador on the subjects of cross-cultural aspects of race and ethinic relations, the effects of colonialism, and problems of underdevelopment seen in ecological perspective, Harris pioneered in the use of videotape techniques in the study of family life in this country.

Author of several books, among them the influential Rise of Anthropological Theory: A History of Theories of Culture and the popoular undergraduate text Culture, Man and Nature: An Introduction to General Anthropology, Harris wrote frequently for Natural History magazine and was a frequent contributor to the professional journals, American Anthropologist and Current Anthropology.  His others books inlcue Cannibals and Kings and Cultural Materialism.

Bibliographic information