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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A Note on Harrington and Kroeber


John Peabody Harrington is, in 1975, described on the dust cover of Carobeth Laird's book Encounter With an Angry God by Tom Wolfe, author of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, as a "genius anthropologist." There is a tendency to equate idiosyncracy and paranoia, when it is combined with brilliance, with genius. I do not think that Harrington was a genius, but rather that he was highly intelligent, obviously devoted to his work, and surely erratic. These qualities may exist in geniuses, but by themselves they do not define that term.

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