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

     by Johnson, Marilyn

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

This in-depth look at archaeology sifts through the myth of Indiana Jones to discover what drives this often under-paid, unglamorous, and life-endangering profession. Traveling the globe, author Marilyn Johnson captures the intriguingly unique personalities drawn to archaeology, in spite of its possible dangers and financial destitution. Her adventures are diverse, from breathtaking Machu Picchu to the heartbreaking recovery at 9/11. She dips into the gruesome world of forensic archaeology and shows the legal difficulty of preserving a privately-owned Revolutionary War burial ground. She profiles archaeologists educating the US military about culturally significant sites to decrease the chance of destruction. Each vividly-told story illustrates the difficult work of uncovering human history. 

At times, this short book feels like a crash course in archaeology, but each chapter resonates with the passion these professionals have for their work. Recommended for readers who enjoy armchair travel, history museums, and world heritage sites. Lives in Ruins is a fascinating introduction to the often misunderstood world of archaeology. Amazon and Publishers Weekly named it one of their best books of 2014.

Reviewed by cs, 12/14. Other reviews by cs.