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Shorter Book Reviews 141 anything, become more pervasive, and while the Left may have challenged it in some contexts, in others, it has been willingto employ similar techniques. In fairness, Graebner notes in his Introduction the "essential unity" of the period from the late nineteenth century to the present (5). However, this serves to highlight, rather than solve, the problems with his treatment of the later period. While uneven and incomplete in its treatment, the book is a highly suggestive and very useful discussion of a topic which must be of concern to all who seek to understand the United States in the twentieth century. Keith Cassidy Department of History University of Guelph Thomas R. Trautmann. Lewis Henry .Morganand the Invention of Kinship. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987.xv + 290 pp. Illus. Morgan (1818-1881) is justly celebrated for three major works. Cultivating native informants for his study of the Iroquois Confederacy, he helped to confirm the place of fieldwork, if not of prolonged direct observation, in American social science; later he would add the systematic use of printed schedules. With Ancient Society, still so much and so oddly honoured in the Soviet Union, he seemed to have permanently nailed the idea of social or cultural evolution to the cross of controversy. The work under review is. focussed on a true invention. Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity in the Human Family appeared in 1871, and under the handy label of "kinship" the subject has preoccupied generations of spe.cialists ever since. Trautmann reminds us at the outset that Morgan brought kinship into existence. Before him there were kinsmen enough, but ways of reckoning them were the object of no scientific curiosity. Morgan's productive decades were 1850-1870,his place, upstate New York. He managed to find a necessary system, not in nature or in language, but in social relations. As this was the heyday of philology, Morgan's initial orientation had been to search backward for origins along branching structures of reconstructed time. Though he shared with other leading minds of his day the figure of the sea/a naturae and a genealogical model of evolutionary change, Darwinism has no place in this book, and despite 142 Shorter Book Reviews contemporary events in the South and West, neither do concerns with race. Morgan was an inactive Presbyterian, a quick success as a lawyer, and an inveterate study-group organizer with an ingenuous antiquarian-cumsociological interest in the Seneca tribe nearby. The book tells how it happened that such a figure was able to thrive on the intellectual life of little Rochester, make solid professional connections with the Smithsonian Institution and, while framing and financing his own scholarly career, make a contribution, on a par with any, to the social science of his time. Morgan seems to have read sparingly, but always with an eye to his special concerns. What gave his work solidity was the combination of Western field trips with a decade of extensive field correspondence, using a carefully-worked schedule for charting the kinship terms, as it were, of any people anywhere blessed with a Presbyterian mission. His theoretical premises, where they do not simply reflect his place and times, are largely coded into conceptual terms of his own devising. Trautmann's documentary analysis of the development of Morgan's thought amounts to a sleuth-like decoding of the texts which brought the comparative field of kinship studies into being. Beginning with a knowledge of the man and his circle, the study proceeds by comparison of the two ms., drafts preserved at the University of Rochester. It happened that Morgan's original ms., had to face publication delays just at the historic moment (1865-1867) of a veritable "revolution in ethnological time." This was one of those sudden quantum leaps in the conventional wisdom: before, the fountain of truth bubbled in the sunny garden of Bishop ("4004 B.C.") Ussher--forever after, the pious "short chronology" of mankind would be relegated to the cloudy grasslands of dissent. For Morgan's ms., the changes show no sudden insight, only an "intensification of its evolutionism." One might say he had not the time or perspective to see that...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-114X
Print ISSN
0007-7720
Pages
pp. 141-143
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
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