In the early 1960s, Michael C. Rockefeller had it all-brains, good looks, an adventurous spirit, and as the youngest son of Governor Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller and Mary Todhunter Rockefeller, an abundance of wealth and power. Upon graduating from Harvard University, Rockefeller''s curiosity and travels took him to an expedition in New Guinea where he soon became fascinated with the culture and artwork of the Asmats, a local tribe which lived on the southern part of the island.
On his quest to learn more about the Asmat people and to collect their coveted tribal artifacts, Rockefeller soon returned to New Guinea. One afternoon, he and his companion, Dutch anthropologist Rene Wassing, were in a canoe about three miles from shore when it suddenly capsized, spilling both men into the sea. After drifting for several hours and moving even further away from shore, Wassing decided to stay with the canoe, while Rockefeller thought otherwise, saying to Wassing, as he was about to swim off with two fuel tanks strapped to his waist, "I think I can make it."
While Wassing was rescued the next day, Rockefeller disappeared-and his fate still remains a mystery today.
Carl Hoffman, an avid traveler and an acclaimed writer, vividly brings to life the story behind the death of Michael Rockefeller, setting out to solve what he thinks really happens - which is that the Asmats killed and ceremoniously ate Rockefeller after seeing him swimming to shore. He further explains their motivations-from a simple act of revenge coupled with a spiritual worldview which equates the ultimate act of subsumption as creating a form of natural balance.
Retracing Rockefeller''s steps and journey, Hoffman travels to New Guinea-still one of the remotest places on earth-where he delves into the world of former headhunters and cannibals, learns to speak Bahasa Indonesia, and uncovers generations of Asmat who seemingly know the truth behind Rockefeller''s untimely and mysterious death.