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