An intriguing window into the past.

BOG BODIES UNCOVERED

SOLVING EUROPE'S ANCIENT MYSTERY

A real-life forensic thriller revealing the secrets of ancient and modern bodies preserved in bogs—some for nearly 3,000 years—in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark, and northern Germany.

Aldhouse-Green (Emeritus, Archaeology/Cardiff Univ.; The Celtic Myths: A Guide to the Ancient Gods and Legends, 2015, etc.) describes how the environments of these bogs, formed from marshes filled with half-decomposed, partially decayed vegetation, are both the subject of myth and of scientific interest. “Bogs were and are special places, miasmic and fearsome,” she writes. “They hover in the ’tween space between land and water.” The preserved dead bodies found in them “are an archaeologist’s dream.” Their lack of oxygen, combined with bog acids and a particular bog moss, creates the conditions in which bodies are preserved, “complete with soft tissue, skin, hair, finger- and toenails and with their internal organs intact too.” The discovery of hundreds of bog bodies offers clues to their social statuses, the foods they ate, and the manners of their deaths. With modern forensic tools, it is possible to probe whether the cause of death was accidental or the result of violence and whether the victim was killed as a ritual sacrifice, punished for heinous crimes, or denied a traditional burial as a mark of shame. Some individuals no doubt met accidental deaths, and more recently, others have been identified as probable murder victims. Aldhouse-Green relies on her archaeological expertise and knowledge of Celtic myths, along with accounts of ancient authors on barbarian rituals, to ponder “the million-dollar question: whether human sacrifice was behind some or all of the Iron- and Roman-period bog deaths.” Wisely reminding us that the bog bodies “are not artifacts but people” worthy of respect, the author speculates on the fact that a number of the bodies seem to reveal deformities that may have singled individuals out for ritual sacrifice, perhaps to deities thought to reside in the bogs.

An intriguing window into the past.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-500-05182-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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