Cannibals are the Nicest People
If You're That Way With Them,
Says Author-Explorer William
Seabrook; And So, On The South
Sea Islands, Our Troops Make
Friends--The Japs Make Dinners
One of the themes that runs through The American Weekly is readers' fascination with U.S. soldiers' exposure to foreign cultures. The World War was exactly that, a war involving the entire face of the earth. It caused irrevocable changes to virtually all the earth's societies, and among other things involved American G.I.'s coming into contact with remote South Sea islanders. William Seabrook compared his own experiences two decades before in Africa to those of the troops, and came away with sage advice: If you're nice to them, they'll be nice to you.
This article of course deals with the experiences Seabrook described in Jungle Ways among allegedly cannibalistic tribes in Africa. Seabrook's moral relativism in this article and in his book have always reminded me of that foundational work of anthropological thought, Montaigne's "On the Cannibals," which I'm sure many of you would find interesting reading.