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"Life Abroad Is Entirely Different",
a review by Carroll Quigley in The Washington Sunday Star, June 24, 1962,
of a book:
TRADITIONAL CULTURES: And the Impact of Technological Change,
by George M. Foster.
New York: Harper and Brothers, 1962


"Life Abroad Is Entirely Different"


TRADITIONAL CULTURES: And the Impact of Technological Change.
By George M. Foster.
Harper & Bros.; $6.30.


Over the last 20 years there has been an increasing demand for trained Americans to work overseas in various foreign aid programs. Originally the major part of these people were technicians in health, medicine, or engineering, and academic persons from economics and political science. Over the years it has become evident that even the best people in these disciplines found unexpected obstacles in the exotic nature of foreign cultures and alien minds and achieved success in their endeavors to a degree much less than their training or talents would seem to warrant.

With this recognition has come realization of a second point, that certain persons trained in anthropology or possibly only in personal kindness and common sense have achieved surprising results with relatively limited resources.

A Different Culture

It is now quite evident that the man whose training, however excellent, is restricted to our own culture is almost fatally handicapped in development work in a different culture, while, on the other hand, an anthropologist, whose cultural training is on a comparative basis from the beginning, has decisive advantage in achieving the often simple, modifications of customs which the encouragement of development requires.

This recognition has released from the presses a flood of books which seek to point out to non-anthropologists the key points which seem to characterize the anthropological point of view in development work.

An Excellent Study

Prof. Foster of the University of California has given us one of the best of these books. It is brief; its chief points are specific; it is based on wide personal experience in development work; the applications of its rules are illustrated by numerous references to the experiences of himself and friends, and it shows a healthy recognition that he has learned what he knows the hard way, by recognizing his own early errors and misconceptions in the field.

Anyone who is going to work in a different culture on a development project will be successful only to the extent that he arrives with the comparative (anthropological) point of view and is able to profit from his own experiences in the field, especially from his errors.

He can start this double process before he leaves home by reading this book.

If he still has time left, he might then go on to read a book whose inspiration goes back to Foster, Charles J. Erasmus: "Man Takes Control; Cultural Development and American Aid” (University of Minnesota Press, 1961)

-- Carroll Quigley.



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