A diligent but disorienting work, best suited for readers with a healthy appetite for all things archeological and Andean.

A SACRED LANDSCAPE

THE SEARCH FOR ANCIENT PERU

Documentary filmmaker and pre-Colombian historian Thomson (The White Rock, 2003, etc.) journeys to ancient archeological sites in Peru.

The author proves an adept and diligent tour guide in this scholarly work, though he’s less successful at bringing the extinct Andean civilizations to life. As he picks through the vine-covered ruins and desert arroyos, readers may feel like visitors to a dusty museum who never quite grasp just what they’re looking at. Because the Incas and the civilizations that preceded them left behind no written texts, many things about these master builders, skilled artists and resourceful survivors must be inferred by educated guesswork that doesn’t always satisfy. Mind you, the sites Thomson introduces often compensate. He and his team find extensive undiscovered ruins at Llactapata, sister city to Peru’s most famous archeological site, Machu Picchu. They visit the infamous Nasca lines: giant, elaborate designs carved into the landscape 500 years before the Incas arrived. Originally thought to be purely astronomical markings, the lines may have been followed by processions during ancient rituals, Thomson suggests. Indeed, some of those ancient rituals still exist. At the Festival of Qoyllurit’i, he joins thousands of costumed pilgrims in a bone-chilling all-night ascent of glacial mountains. At Sechin, he finds great pyramids rising nine stories tall, built as early as 1500 B.C.E. Along the way, he introduces us to colorful Peruvian locals and heroic unsung archeologists like Gordon McEwan, who has labored for 25 years in remote desert ruins. Among the eye-opening information Thomson imparts is the revelation that some pre-Inca civilizations were victims of ancient climate change, most likely fomented by El Niño; human sacrifice and gory mutilation may have been their groping attempts to halt the droughts and floods that eventually destroyed them.

A diligent but disorienting work, best suited for readers with a healthy appetite for all things archeological and Andean.

Pub Date: June 21, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-58567-901-0

Page Count: 376

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2007

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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