Lives in Ruins: Archaeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble (Paperback)

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Description


The author of The Dead Beat and This Book is Overdue! turns her piercing eye and charming wit to the real-life avatars of Indiana Jones—the archaeologists who sort through the muck and mire of swamps, ancient landfills, volcanic islands, and other dirty places to reclaim history for us all.

Pompeii, Machu Picchu, the Valley of the Kings, the Parthenon—the names of these legendary archaeological sites conjure up romance and mystery. The news is full of archaeology: treasures found (British king under parking lot) and treasures lost (looters, bulldozers, natural disaster, and war). Archaeological research tantalizes us with possibilities (are modern humans really part Neandertal?). Where are the archaeologists behind these stories? What kind of work do they actually do, and why does it matter?

Marilyn Johnson’s Lives in Ruins is an absorbing and entertaining look at the lives of contemporary archaeologists as they sweat under the sun for clues to the puzzle of our past. Johnson digs and drinks alongside archaeologists, chases them through the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and even Machu Picchu, and excavates their lives. Her subjects share stories we rarely read in history books, about slaves and Ice Age hunters, ordinary soldiers of the American Revolution, children of the first century, Chinese woman warriors, sunken fleets, mummies.

What drives these archaeologists is not the money (meager) or the jobs (scarce) or the working conditions (dangerous), but their passion for the stories that would otherwise be buried and lost.

Praise For…


“As she did in her previous books about librarians and obituary writers, Johnson finds that the line between inspirationally nutty and actually crazy is measured in the joy of the work.”

“An engrossing examination of how archaeologists re-create much of human history, piece by painstaking piece.”

“A lively love letter to archaeologists...Many archaeologists credit Indiana Jones with sparking their passion, and Johnson may well inspire a new generation to take up this calling.”

“World travel, drinking, lust in the dust-our lives are all in ruins, indeed, and Johnson reveals why we wouldn’t want it any other way.”

“The great pleasure with which I read this book took me back to when I was eight years old and wanted to be an archaeologist. Marilyn Johnson does a wonderful job uncovering the delight in this tough, important, and exhilarating profession.”

“Johnson’s contribution to this genre is unmatched...wonderful and engaging work peels back the superficial glamour surrounding archaeology and archaeologists...Without glitz, the author has created a very enjoyable work that will be appreciated by experts in the field and casual readers alike.”

Lives in Ruins is…delectable.”

“Johnson writes in a charming and thoughtful manner, weaving in her personal observations, insightful quotes from her subjects and a wide-eyed fascination with her subjects.”

“Johnson writes entertainingly, employing many quirky tidbits gleaned from the likably eccentric intellects she meets.”
Product Details
ISBN: 9780062127198
ISBN-10: 0062127195
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: November 10th, 2015
Pages: 304
Language: English