Meyerson makes a valiant case for this strange, compelling character in a breezy gambol through the annals of Egyptology.



A sprightly look at the grand era of tomb plundering.

Meyerson (The Linguist and the Emperor: Napoleon and Champollion’s Quest to Decipher the Rosetta Stone, 2004, etc.) presents an enjoyable portrait of the megalomaniacal British artist and antiquities excavator Howard Carter (1874–1939), whose discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922 became the greatest find in the fabled Valley of the Kings and marked the culmination of years of dogged work and punishing setbacks. In Meyerson’s digressive study, which dashes erratically among the movements of the various players, Carter emerges as an irascible, determined, brilliant man who truly cherished the ancient art and artifacts he unearthed—that they also fetched a good price on the antiquities market was certainly appealing as well. A largely uneducated son of a working-class family, Carter learned to sketch and paint from his artist father, and got his break at age 17 when he was sent to Egypt to work as an apprentice copyist at the Beni Hasan tombs under the aegis of William Flinders Petrie, “the father of modern archaeology.” Meyerson embarks on a dizzying exegesis of the reign of renegade pharaoh Akhenaton—who ruled during the 1300s BCE and was married to Nefertiti—his son Tut and their mutable entombments. The author also scrolls through the nascent field of Egyptology. Only after his partnership with his wealthy patron Lord Carnarvon did Carter finally make his life’s discovery. The many years prior were plagued by fruitless digging, a world war and the suspicion—by everyone but Carter—that the Valley of the Kings had already been exhausted of its booty. Even after the Tut discovery, Carter was denied access and credit.

Meyerson makes a valiant case for this strange, compelling character in a breezy gambol through the annals of Egyptology.

Pub Date: May 19, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-345-47693-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2009

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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