An anthropologist may refer to a professionally trained and qualified individual who is involved in the study and the application of origins, behavior and the social, physical and the cultural aspects of human development. Anthropologist may be proficient in the fields of forensic anthropology, biological anthropology, literary anthropology, sociocultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, philosophical anthropology, archaeological anthropology and many others. Anthropologists across the world work with the main objective of understanding the science of humanity. The field of anthropology originated in the 19th and 20th century, after which anthropology became a distinguished field of study. Anthropologists are employed by government organizations, non-profit organizations, and educational organizations and may even work at disaster struck areas. An anthropologist analyses the consequences of overpopulation, poverty and may be involved in training and providing skills to people to tackle these problems., Anthropologists are also employed by various corporations and they can work in any environment, for example studying primates in Africa. They may work in deserts, cities, villages, towns, schools and even underwater archaeological sites. Get familiar with some of the most the worlds renowned and famous anthropologists from around the world by reading their biographies that include trivia, interesting facts, timeline and life history.
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 1 Dian Fossey

Dian Fossey
Famous As: Zoologist, Conservationist
Birthdate: January 16, 1932
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: San Francisco, California, United States
Died: December 26, 1985
Zoologist, primatologist, and conservationist Dian Fossey conducted research on mountain gorillas in Rwanda from 1966 until she was murdered in 1985. She was part of the Trimates assigned to study apes by paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey. She wrote Gorillas in the Mist, which was later turned into a film.

 2 Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston
Famous As: Folklorist, Anthropologist
Birthdate: January 7, 1891
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Notasulga
Died: January 28, 1960

Zora Neale Hurston was an author, anthropologist, and filmmaker. As an African American woman, she often depicted racial issues in the films she made. Her works also reflected her struggles as a black woman. In her early career, she conducted anthropological and ethnographic research and focused more on writing and film-making in her later years.

 3 Margaret Mead

Margaret Mead
Famous As: Cultural Anthropologist
Birthdate: December 16, 1901
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
Died: November 15, 1978

One of the most celebrated anthropologists to have ever existed, Margaret Mead is remembered for his research on a broad range of topics, such as sexual conventions in Western society. Of her 23 books, the most talked-about was the bestseller Coming of Age in Samoa.

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 4 Claude Lévi-Strauss

Claude Lévi-Strauss
Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: November 28, 1908
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Brussels, Belgium
Died: October 30, 2009

French social anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss is remembered for his contribution to structural anthropology. His book Tristes Tropiques was based on his research deep in the Brazilian Amazon. While he left France for the U.S. during World War II, he later returned to Paris and received his doctorate.

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 5 Franz Boas

Franz Boas
Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: July 9, 1858
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Minden, Westphalia, Germany
Died: December 21, 1942

Remembered for his research on cultural relativism, German-born American anthropologist Franz Boas is often referred to as the Father of American Anthropology. The son of a merchant, he was a sickly child who grew up reading a lot. He also studied folklore and developed it as an academic discipline.

 6 Bruno Latour

Bruno Latour
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: June 22, 1947
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Beaune, France

Holberg Prize-winning French sociologist and anthropologist Bruno Latour had initially studied theology and even received his PhD in the subject. His later research Ivory Coast drew him to anthropology, and he soon gained fame as a renowned academic in the field, having co-written iconic books such as Laboratory Life.

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 7 Clifford Geertz

Clifford Geertz
Famous As: Anthropologist, University teacher, Sociologist
Birthdate: August 23, 1926
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: San Francisco
Died: October 30, 2006

Clifford Geertz was an anthropologist who strongly supported and influenced the practice of symbolic anthropology. He attended Harvard University, where he completed an interdisciplinary program. He then embarked on an academic career and wrote several theoretical pieces and essays on symbolic anthropology. He has left a strong influence on modern anthropology and communication studies. 

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 8 Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall
Famous As: Primatologist
Birthdate: April 3, 1934
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Hampstead, London, England

Jane Goodall is an English anthropologist and primatologist. Goodall's research proved that chimpanzees could use tools like stalks of grass to fish out termites from termite holes; this also challenged the long-held belief that chimpanzees were vegetarians. Goodall also discovered that chimpanzees are capable of emotions like sorrow and joy. Goodall is also credited with founding the Jane Goodall Institute.

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 9 Ruth Benedict

Ruth Benedict
Famous As: Anthropologist, Folklorist, University teacher, Poet, Sociologist, Biographer
Birthdate: June 5, 1887
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York City
Died: September 17, 1948

Ruth Benedict was an American folklorist and anthropologist. Benedict, who played an important role in the American Folklore Society, also served as the American Anthropological Association's president; the association gives away an annual prize named after Ruth Benedict. In 2005, she was made an inductee of the National Women's Hall of Fame.

 10 Ann Dunham

Ann Dunham
Famous As: Anthropologist, Barack Obama's Mother
Birthdate: November 29, 1942
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Wichita, Kansas, United States
Died: November 7, 1995
Ann Dunham was the mother of former U.S. President Barack Obama. She was an economic anthropologist and worked for the betterment of rural Indonesian women. She had met Barack Obama Sr. while studying at the University of Hawaii. She had worked with USAID, the Ford Foundation, and Bank Rakyat Indonesia.
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 11 Alice Roberts

Alice Roberts
Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: May 19, 1973
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bristol
Biological anthropologist Alice Roberts has taught at the University of Birmingham and led the charity Humanists UK. She gained fame as the presenter of shows such as Dr. Alice Roberts: Don't Die Young and The Incredible Human Journey. She has also authored books such as The Complete Human Body.

 12 Edward Burnett Tylor

Edward Burnett Tylor
Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: October 2, 1832
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Camberwell, London, England
Died: January 2, 1917

Known for his pioneering work in cultural anthropology, Edward Burnett Tylor penned iconic works such as Primitive Culture, which was partially influenced by Darwin’s theory of evolution. Born to affluent Quaker parents, he quit school to focus on his business but was later drawn to anthropology. He popularized the term animism.

 13 Marcel Mauss

Marcel Mauss
Famous As: Sociologist, Anthropologist
Birthdate: May 10, 1872
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Épinal, Vosges, France
Died: February 10, 1950

Sociologist and anthropologist Marcel Mauss is regarded as the Father of French Ethnology. Shunning his family business, he became influenced by his uncle, sociologist Émile Durkheim. His best-known work remains Essai sur le don, or The Gift. He also influenced Claude Lévi-Strauss, who founded structural anthropology.

 14 Herbert Spencer

Herbert Spencer
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: April 27, 1820
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Derby, Derbyshire, England
Died: December 8, 1903

Herbert Spencer was the man behind the expression “survival of the fittest,” after reading Charles Darwin's iconic work On the Origin of Species. The British anthropologist, sociologist, and philosopher introduced the concept of Social Darwinism, which applied the theory of evolution to societies and social classes.

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 15 Chris McCandless

Chris McCandless
Famous As: American adventurer
Birthdate: February 12, 1968
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: El Segundo, California, United States
Died: August 18, 1992

Chris McCandless, also known as Alexander Supertramp, was made famous by Jon Krakauer’s book Into the Wild, which was later made into a movie. The adventurer had hitchhiked through Alaska, and later took shelter in an abandoned bus, where he eventually died of starvation and poisoning, cut off from civilization.

 16 Edward Sapir

Edward Sapir
Famous As: Anthropologist, Linguist, Sociolinguist, University teacher, Ethnologist
Birthdate: January 26, 1884
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lębork
Died: February 4, 1939

Edward Sapir was an anthropologist-linguist. He played a pivotal role in the development of the discipline of linguistics in USA. He studied Germanic linguistics at Columbia and later researched Native American languages. He was an expert in the study of Athabascan languages and Chinookan languages. He also worked with Yiddish, Hebrew, and Chinese languages. 

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 17 E. E. Evans-Pritchard

E. E. Evans-Pritchard
Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: September 21, 1902
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Crowborough, East Sussex, England
Died: September 11, 1973

Social anthropologist E. E. Evans-Pritchard is best remembered for his research on witchcraft, magic, and African cultures. Apart from teaching anthropology at Oxford, his alma, he had also worked in South Sudan and penned books such as Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic Among the Azande. He was also knighted for his achievements.

 18 Alfred Russel Wallace

Alfred Russel Wallace
Famous As: Naturalist, Explorer, Geographer, Anthropologist and Biologist
Birthdate: January 8, 1823
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Llanbadoc
Died: November 7, 1913

British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace is largely remembered for his theory of evolution through natural selection, which inspired Charles Darwin’s studies. He began his career as a surveyor’s apprentice and later introduced concepts such as reinforcement in animals, also known as the Wallace effect. He was awarded the Order of Merit.

 19 Rudolf Virchow

Rudolf Virchow
Famous As: Anthropologist, Pathologist
Birthdate: October 13, 1821
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Swidwin, Poland
Died: September 5, 1902

Rudolf Virchow was a German physician, pathologist, anthropologist, biologist, prehistorian, editor, writer, and politician. Nicknamed the Pope of medicine by his colleagues, Virchow is credited with founding the field of social medicine. He is also widely regarded as the father of modern pathology.  Rudolf Virchow was the first person to name diseases, such as thrombosis, leukemia, ochronosis, embolism, and chordoma.

 20 Thomas Henry Huxley

Thomas Henry Huxley
Famous As: Biologist
Birthdate: May 4, 1825
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Ealing, London, England
Died: June 29, 1895

Thomas Henry Huxley was an English biologist and anthropologist. He specialized in comparative anatomy and was a proponent of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. Despite having little formal schooling, he went on to become one of the finest comparative anatomists of the 19th century. He was the chair of natural history at the Royal School of Mines for 31 years. 

 21 Lewis Henry Morgan

Lewis Henry Morgan
Birthdate: November 21, 1818
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Aurora
Died: December 17, 1881

Lewis Henry Morgan was a 19th-century lawyer, anthropologist, and social theorist. A contemporary of the European social theorists and philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, he was interested in studying what holds societies together. He originated several theories of social evolution. He was made the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1880.  

 22 David Graeber

David Graeber
Famous As: Anthropologist, Professor
Birthdate: February 12, 1961
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York, United States
Died: September 2, 2020

David Graeber, who was a well-known name in the fields of social and economic anthropology, is best remembered for his bestselling book Bullshit Jobs. A lifelong anti-capitalist, he spoke against bureaucracy and also led the Occupy movement. He died abruptly of necrotic pancreatitis, while vacationing in Venice.

 23 Kathy Reichs

Kathy Reichs
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: July 7, 1948
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, USA

Kathy Reichs is a forensic anthropologist, academic, and crime writer. She has been certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology and is an adjunct professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina. She is the author of numerous technical books and has also written many novels. She also produced the TV series Bones, based on her works. 

 24 Mary Douglas

Mary Douglas
Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: March 25, 1921
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Sanremo, Italy
Died: May 16, 2007

Best known for her book Purity and Danger, anthropologist Mary Douglas specialized in human culture and comparative religion. Initially employed with the British Colonial Office, she later worked with the matrilineal community of the Lele people of Kasai. She was known to be a devout Catholic.

 25 Pierre Bourdieu

Pierre Bourdieu
Famous As: Sociologist
Birthdate: August 1, 1930
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Denguin, France
Died: January 23, 2002

Renowned sociologist and intellectual Pierre Bourdieu is best remembered for his theory of habitus. Initially sent to Algeria as part of the French Army, he later taught and conducted ethnographic research there. His best-known work remains La Distinction, and he also inspired a hit French documentary.

 26 Talal Asad

Talal Asad
Famous As: Anthropologist known for his writing calling for the anthropology of secularism
Birthdate: March 31, 1932
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Medina, Saudi Arabia

Sociocultural anthropologist and City University of New York professor Talal Asad is best known for his research on nomads, postcolonialism, and the culture of nations such as Sudan. He has also taught at the universities of Khartoum and Hull, and penned books such as On Suicide Bombing.

 27 Marshall Sahlins

Marshall Sahlins
Famous As: Anthropologist, Educationist, University teacher
Birthdate: December 27, 1930
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Chicago

Born to a Russian immigrant doctor father in Chicago, Marshall Sahlins grew up to be one of the most celebrated cultural anthropologists of the world. The University of Chicago professor is also known for his books such as The Use and Abuse of Biology and Stone Age Economics.

 28 Paul Farmer

Paul Farmer
Birthdate: October 26, 1959
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: North Adams, Massachusetts
Died: February 21, 2022

Paul Farmer was a medical anthropologist and physician, who was a co-founder of Partners In Health (PIH), an international non-profit organization. He was a proponent of liberation theology and wrote extensively on health and human rights. 

 29 Louis Leakey

Louis Leakey
Famous As: Paleoanthropologist and Archaeologist
Birthdate: August 7, 1903
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kabete
Died: October 1, 1972

Son of British missionaries in Kenya, Louis Leakey spent his early days amid the Kikuyu people near Nairobi. With an elite education at Cambridge, he later revolutionized the fields of paleoanthropology and archaeology. His study of fossils in East Africa proved humans were older than previously thought.

 30 David Harvey

David Harvey
Famous As: Professor of Anthropology & Geography
Birthdate: October 31, 1935
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Gillingham, Kent, England

David Harvey is a  Marxist economic geographer, podcaster, and a fellow of the British Academy. He is currently a distinguished professor of anthropology and geography at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). He has authored many books and essays and is one of the most cited authors of books in the humanities and social sciences.   

 31 Richard Leakey

Richard Leakey
Famous As: Paleoanthropologist
Birthdate: December 19, 1944
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Nairobi, Kenya
Died: January 2, 2022

Born to anthropologist parents, Richard Leakey initially worked as a safari guide. On an expedition to Ethiopia, he and his men stumbled upon Koobi Fora, a site where they unearthed numerous tools and fossils. The Kenyan paleoanthropologist later lost his legs in a plane crash and now uses artificial limbs.

 32 Steven Erikson

Steven Erikson
Famous As: Anthropologist, Writer
Birthdate: October 7, 1959
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Toronto

Canadian novelist Steven Erikson is best-known for authoring the widely acclaimed ten-volume epic-fantasy series Malazan Book of the Fallen. Other notable works of Erikson include The Kharkanas Trilogy, a prequel to Malazan Book of the Fallen series; the Willful Child Trilogy, a spoof on Star Trek; and The Witness Trilogy, first novel of which is planned for a November-2021 release.

 33 Paul Ekman

Paul Ekman
Famous As: Psychologist, Anthropologist, Sociologist, Non-fiction writer, University teacher
Birthdate: February 15, 1934
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Washington, D.C.

 34 Carlos Castaneda

Carlos Castaneda
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: December 25, 1925
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Cajamarca, Peru
Died: April 27, 1998

Peruvian-American author and anthropologist Carlos Castaneda was born to unwed parents. He lived a mysterious life, and though believed to be married, he later denied the claim. An expert on shamanism, he was a disciple of sorcerer Don Juan Matus and later penned books such as The Teachings of Don Juan.

 35 Karl Polanyi

Karl Polanyi
Famous As: Economist, Anthropologist, Economic historian, Historian, Journalist, Philosopher, Writer, University teacher, Sociologist
Birthdate: October 25, 1886
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Vienna
Died: April 23, 1964

Apart from being a political economist, Karl Polanyi was also a prominent Hungarian political leader. The Great Transformation remains his best-known work. He taught at institutes such as the Columbia University and is known for proposing the idea of a cultural version of economics known as substantivism.

 36 John Wesley Powell

John Wesley Powell
Famous As: Explorer, Geologist
Birthdate: March 24, 1834
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Mount Morris
Died: September 23, 1902

John Wesley Powell was a geologist and explorer of the American West. He undertook a series of adventures as a young man and later joined the military. He is best known for the three-month-long geographic expedition he undertook down the Green and Colorado rivers. He was made the director of the U.S. Geological Survey in 1881.  

 37 Victor Turner

Victor Turner
Famous As: Anthropologist, Sociologist
Birthdate: May 28, 1920
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Glasgow
Died: December 18, 1983

Best known for his work on symbols and rituals, British cultural anthropologist Victor Turner embarked on his lifelong study of the Ndembu people when as a young man he went to Zambia to work as a research officer. Spending his entire career studying rituals and rites of passage, he later applied them to world religion, publishing important works on them.  

 38 Ludwig Feuerbach

Ludwig Feuerbach
Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: July 28, 1804
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Landshut, Germany
Died: September 13, 1872

 39 Gustave Le Bon

Gustave Le Bon
Famous As: Physician, Anthropologist, Archaeologist, Psychologist, Philosopher, Historian, Sociologist
Birthdate: May 7, 1841
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Nogent-le-Rotrou
Died: December 13, 1931

French social psychologist Gustave Le Bon is best remembered for his research on crowd psychology. In his iconic work La psychologie des foules, or The Crowd, he stated that people are driven by their emotions and not by their intellect when they act as part of a crowd.

 40 Edward S. Curtis

Edward S. Curtis
Famous As: Former photographer and ethnologist whose work focused on the American West and on Native American people
Birthdate: February 19, 1868
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Whitewater, Wisconsin, United States
Died: October 19, 1952

Edward S. Curtis was an American ethnologist and photographer whose work focused on the Native American people and American West. He is credited with photographing the first portrait of a Native American. Edward S. Curtis' work aimed at preserving the traditional life of Native Americans.

 41 Johann Friedrich Blumenbach

Johann Friedrich Blumenbach
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: May 11, 1752
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Gotha, Germany
Died: January 22, 1840

A pioneer of physical anthropology, Johann Friedrich Blumenbach laid down one of the first racial classification systems for humans after studying human skulls, dividing mankind into five racial groups. Born into a family of academics, he was a prodigy. He was against scientific racism, though his theory promoted the degenerative hypothesis.

 42 Gregory Bateson

Gregory Bateson
Famous As: Anthropologist, Philosopher, Sociologist, Psychologist
Birthdate: May 9, 1904
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Grantchester
Died: June 11, 1980

Gregory Bateson was an English anthropologist, social scientist, linguist, and visual anthropologist. Along with his colleagues, he developed the double-bind theory of schizophrenia. Also a cyberneticist, he was part of the core group of the Macy Conferences in Cybernetics. He was a member of philosopher William Irwin Thompson's esoteric nonprofit foundation Lindisfarne Association.  

 43 Alfred Radcliffe-Brown

Alfred Radcliffe-Brown
Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: January 17, 1881
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Birmingham, England
Died: October 24, 1955

Best known for his work on the pre-industrialized societies, Alfred Radcliffe-Brown visited Andaman Island and Western Australia to study the social structure of the people there, later writing two important books on them. A renowned scholar, he taught at various preeminent universities across the globe before returning to England to establish the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Oxford.

 44 Geert Hofstede

Geert Hofstede
Famous As: Psychologist, University teacher, Anthropologist, Economist
Birthdate: October 2, 1928
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Haarlem

 45 Robert Ripley

Robert Ripley
Famous As: Cartoonist
Birthdate: December 25, 1890
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Santa Rosa, California, United States
Died: May 27, 1949

Robert Ripley was a cartoonist and an amateur anthropologist best known for creating the newspaper panel series Ripley's Believe It or Not! The series was later adapted for radio and TV. He lost his father when he was young and began working as a cartoonist at the age of 16. Over the years, he became extremely successful and wealthy. 

 46 Michael Taussig

Michael Taussig
Famous As: Anthropologist, University teacher
Birthdate: April 3, 1940
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Sydney

With a medical degree from University of Sydney and a PhD in anthropology from London School of Economics, Michael Taussig is famed for his provocative ethnographic studies and unconventional style of teaching. Best known for his commentaries on Karl Marx, especially in relation to the idea of commodity fetishism, he has also produced several well-researched works on medical anthropology. .

 47 William James Sidis

William James Sidis
Famous As: Notable for his 1920 book The Animate and the Inanimate
Birthdate: April 1, 1898
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Manhattan, New York City, United States
Died: July 17, 1944

 48 James George Frazer

James George Frazer
Famous As: Anthropologist, Writer, Historian, Mythographer
Birthdate: January 1, 1854
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Glasgow
Died: May 7, 1941
British anthropologist James George Frazer is best known for his book The Golden Bough, which details his study of ancient cults and myths. He also taught social anthropology at Cambridge. He was also knighted for his achievements and was also made a Fellow of The Royal Society.

 49 Mary Leakey

Mary Leakey
Famous As: Paleoanthropologist
Birthdate: February 6, 1913
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: London, England
Died: December 9, 1996

British paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey had exhibited her interest in drawing and archaeology as a kid. Most of her career was spent working alongside her husband, Louis Leakey. She was in charge of many excavation projects in Kenya. Her discoveries include the first Proconsul skull fossil and 15 new animal species.

 50 Lothrop Stoddard

Lothrop Stoddard
Famous As: Anthropologist, Political scientist, Historian, Author, Journalist, Opinion journalist
Birthdate: June 29, 1883
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Brookline
Died: May 1, 1950

Twentieth-century American political scientist and historian Lothrop Stoddard was a Ku Klux Klan and believed in eugenics, a theory that promoted the superiority certain races based on genetics. His book The Revolt Against Civilization introduced neo-Nazi concepts. He also covered World War II as a journalist.