HARRISSON, Tom. Savage Civilisation. London, Victor Gollancz, 1937.
8vo. Original blue cloth with illustrated dust-wrapper; pp. 461, , plates after photographs, illustrations in the text after drawings, fold-out map at rear; cloth a little dulled, wrapper with small marginal flaw; title and following leaf a bit spotted due to offsetting from frontispiece; a good copy in the rarely seen dust-wrapper.
Scarce first edition of a classic of Polynesian anthropology. Harrisson (1911-1976) started as a young ornithologist leading Oxford expeditions to Norwegian Lapland (1931), and, in 1932, to Sarawak, northern Borneo. After he had finished writing this book he founded the Mass Observation programme, which was to change British anthropolgy and sociology for ever. 'Harrisson's fourth Oxford expedition (1933–5) was to the New Hebrides. When the rest of the Oxford party left Santo Island for home in 1934, Harrisson got to Malekula, where cannibalism was still widespread. Unarmed, barefoot, with no money, he made friends with the cannibals and took censuses that helped to disprove the then popular thesis that the islanders were dying out from a morbid despair caused by culture shock; he found instead that their numbers were increasing. Harrisson's focus had shifted from birds to people' (ODNB).