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Rendon, M. (1972). Ancient Society By Lewis Henry Morgan. Paperback edition by Meridian Books, the World Publishing Company. Cleveland. $3.95. First published in 1877. Edited with an introduction and annotations by Eleanor Burke Leacock in 1963.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 32(1):113-116.

(1972). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 32(1):113-116

Ancient Society By Lewis Henry Morgan. Paperback edition by Meridian Books, the World Publishing Company. Cleveland. $3.95. First published in 1877. Edited with an introduction and annotations by Eleanor Burke Leacock in 1963.

Review by:
Mario Rendon, M.D.

With the increasing interest that family therapy has aroused as a new therapeutic approach, this book is a must for anyone who wants to look at the past of the family institution, so to say its natural history. Although Morgan was an “amateur” anthropologist, he stands among the great pioneers in the field of human science. He belongs to the chapter of history that was written by Darwin, Marx, Freud, Durkheim, all of which have in common the heredity of Hegel, namely the dialectical method. They are all concerned with the concepts of genesis, totality, history, change or movement and opposites.

Morgan was a lawyer in New York and made his discoveries in his practice. He defended the Indians in legal quarrels and was adopted by the Iroquois Indians of upstate New York. Morgan was President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and he founded its anthropology subsection. He was also Chairman of the New York State Committee on Indian Affairs and toward the end of his life he defended the Sioux against Custer.

Morgan was personally acquainted with Darwin, and Freud quotes from Morgan in his “Totem and Taboo”. Frederick Engles wrote his “Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State” inspired by Morgan's work and basically summarized it as a synthesis of the anthropological knowledge of his time. Finally, Levi-Strauss dedicated his book “The Elementary Structures of Kinship” to Morgan. All this in contrast with the almost complete ignorance that American scholars and professionals of the Human Science have shown for Morgan and his work.

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