This biography of the almost forgotten archaeologist, Sir Austen Henry Layard, is by an author who has written junior novels and who knows how to keep a story going. Layard set off to Asia Minor lured by ""Arabian dreams"" in 1839 at the age of 22. In the desert, on his own, he met with fantastic adventure and hardship and nearly died of malaria. In Mesopotamia, he decided that two immense mounds on the Tigris marked the site of Nineveh, the Biblical city of cruelty and decadence. In Baghdad he scraped up Â£120 and returned to excavate his finds which were shipped to the British Museum. Fame came with his book Nineveh and its Remains but he was always pressed for cash. His discoveries were comparable to the later ones at Troy by Schliemann and at Knossos by Evans. He was the innovator who produced almost the first armchair adventures in travel and archaeology. This is a good one in that category and excellent for Ancient History reading lists.