For the price of a ridiculously fancy cup of coffee (or a cup of coffee in Sydney) a digital copy of Action Anthropology and Sol Tax in 2012: The Final Word? can be your from amazon or other fine online book sellers. The book represents the perfect storm of applied/activist anthropology and open access in one package: Tax’s version of action anthropology was decades ahead of its time and this new volume, lovingly prepared by his intellectual heirs, is priced to move.
Tax would have approved of this new volume. It provides a good overview of his activist work, and paints an excellent picture of him as a person. Above all, however, it has the same home-brewed, small-time, grassroots energy that typified so many of Tax’s projects.
As a graduate student, I came of age in the wake of Sol Tax. In small offices around the University of Chicago, small groups of people — often solitary individuals — seemed to be preparing newsletters or projects (often with impressive acronyms) which all seemed to have been started by Sol Tax. Like the power company, his handiwork was always present even if most people looked right past it.
In many ways, Tax’s legacy is a study in the successes (and failures) of personal influence. He left behind a cohort of people who were truly moved by him and his work, but that unique energy which galvanized so many people proved difficult to institutionalize once the man behind it passed away.
One gets the feeling that in this book, subtitled “the last word?” that Tax’s baby-boomer descendants are punting to the Internet and looking for a wider audience for Tax’s thought. I hope that several netizens try to make the catch, because the book is a fascinating and intimate portrait of a school of thought that deserves to be much more widely known.