. . It is hard to imagine reading this exhaustively researched,
richly anecdotal, and provocative biography without being continuously
engaged and even sometimes moved."
George W. Stocking Jr.,
The New York Times Sunday Book Review
"In the Arms of Africa shows [Roy Richard Grinker] to be a patient,
compassionate inrepreter of a complex and often puzzling life.
. . . What Roy Grinker's book dramatizes is the degree to which
there were many Turnbulls, even more than the two who appear through
the pages of his most famous books. The temptation of biography
is to enforce narrative unity on the aleatory movements of a human
life; though this is a temptation to which Grinker occasionally
succumbs, the overall effect of In the Arms of Africa is to reveal
a man who confirms the juxtaposition of his two best-known books
-- that each of us is as much a product of context as an underlying
Kwame Anthony Appiah,
The New York Review of Books
and white men together
How the Pygmies figure into gay history by
Bay Area Reporter
finely tuned portrait perceptively recounts the rich and complex
life of anthropologist Colin Turnbull, who was as much a seeker
after spiritual truth as a man of science . . . In elegant, always
accessible prose, Grinker details Turnbull's early life and his
1949 visit to India . . [This is] one of those rare scholarly
biographies, unfettered by received wisdom and excessive documentation,
that celebrates its subject as a fully realized character determined
to lead an extraordinary life. A notable achievement"
"Colin Turnbull is one
of the most fascinating figures in 20th century culture and in
Richard Grinker he has found a biographer who is both unflinching
and compassionate enough to capture his rich complexity. Moving
with extraordinary grace from the intimate to the epic, Grinker
tells a vivid love story that is also a gripping intellectual
voyage. This is biography at its very best, unfolding a unique
life while also illuminating the twisted relationship between
the developed world and so-called primitive societies."
The New York Daily News
sympathetic and deeply moving biography. . . the resulting memoir
is a love letter, but a nuanced one. Turnbull comes across as
brilliant, sensitive, and charismatic, yet often cruel and distant,
a scholar passionately devoted to social justice yet blind to
his own power . . . Unlike Grinker's earlier works, In the Arms
of Africa is no scholarly treatise. Passionate and often erotic,
it is a page turner, much like The Forest People itself.
Nussbaum, Lingua Franca
"I love this book...a
splendid biography, utterly honest and forthright, showing us what
few want to admit-that anthropology is as much art as science, as
much adventure as discipline."
Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
"A fascinating and carefully
balanced biography of a truly extraordinary man, at once a kind
of secular saint and a genius, whose life and work did much to revolutionize
anthropology and blend it with literature, and who was himself,
above all, one of the kindest and most caring of men."
Groundbreaking . . . superb biography . . . sheds much light on
Turnbull's largely hidden private life.
life was as controversial and rife with contradictions as his books,
fellow anthropologist Roy Richard Grinker reveals in this absorbing
biography. Grinker displays both discernment and critical sympathy
in this gripping chronicle of a tumultuous life.
dusty tome, In the Arms of Africa has all the sweep and heartbreak
of a David Lean epic."
Turnbull's life had an almost magical side to it. Whatever you
think of him as a scholar -- some consider him brilliant, others
overrated -- Turnbull was an original."
Schneebaum, Washington Post Book World.