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Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code and the Uncovering of a Lost Civilisation
 
 

Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code and the Uncovering of a Lost Civilisation [Kindle Edition]

Margalit Fox
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Review

'Fox spins a fascinating yarn centered around an unlikely heroine: a devoted academic spinster who died before accomplishing her life's mission of cracking an ancient script. ... Fox's deft explanations of the script-solving process complete with supplemental photos and illustrations of the text allow readers to share in the mental detective work of cracking the lost language.' Publishers Weekly

'Fox is a talented storyteller, and she creates an atmosphere of almost nail-biting suspense: We know the code was eventually cracked, but while we're reading the book we're on the edge of our seats. This one deserves shelf space along such classics of the genre as Simon Singh's The Code Book.' Booklist (Starred Review)

'Fox recreates the emergence of one of history's most vexing puzzles and then puts readers alongside the remarkable figures who, brilliantly, obsessively, and even tragically, devoted their lives to solving it. Forget The Da Vinci Code. This is the real thing.' Toby Lester, author of Da Vinci's Ghost

'Margalit Fox describes the decipherment of Linear B in such lucid detail that any reader can follow the steps and participate in the thrill of discovery.' --Stephen Mitchell, translator of Gilgamesh and the Iliad

'Truly mesmerising. It's also a lovely testament to language and the history of linguistics' --Sunday Herald

'The details of how the tablets were deciphered are complicated, and it's a credit to Fox's clear, confident writing that following them isn't too painful. As with any good detective story, there's a driving narrative behind the puzzle, peopled by solitary sleuths who allow marital problems or bills to stack up as they devote themselves to the hunt … her enthusiasm is compelling when talking about the raw inventive brainpower of the code-breakers, their unswerving passion, and the magical way that a set of lines and curves in clay can be transformed into something with meaning' Observer

'The author's triumph lies in her presentation of this complex subject, narrated with the pace and excitement of a detective' --Country Life

'A fascinating and very readable account of the life and work of the three scholars whose separate efforts over the course of a century eventually led to the cracking of Linear B. This group biography elegantly illustrates how progress in historical scholarship is made possible by the work of many hands, not just those of a single genius' --History Today

Book Description

For the first time, the full story of the race to decipher the world's greatest puzzle.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3430 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (11 July 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847659705
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847659705
  • ASIN: B00DLU9B24
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #38,088 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quite interesting... 30 Nov 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Quite interesting... although I have the feeling that the author is a bit biased with one of the three protagonists: Alice Kober who happens to be an American female scholar... more or less like the author... So, I have perceived a sense of distortion in telling the facts. On the other hand, my guts say that the other two ones were really the hand (Arthur Evans) and the mind (Michael Ventris) of the decipherment: both British guys... And I am Italian so I am not biased by nationality... Anyhow a great book I truly recommend to anyone willing to go to Crete and to better understand the story of the island.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great central message: pity about the padding 7 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback
This book draws on new material from Alice Kober's archive, only recently catalogued, to present an overdue reevaluation of her life and work - which led to a much increased understanding of the structure of Linear B. It is only a pity that Fox found it necessary in doing so to score cheap points against the person who eventually completed the decypherment, Michael Ventris.

The book makes the valid point that some of the fundamental work presented (in Chadwick's book) as if Ventris originated it, in fact first appeared in print in a seminal 1948 methods paper by Kober (notably the use of the two dimensional syllabic grid, set out by Kober 3 years before the critical Ventris worknote of 1951). But I do not like her amateur psychologist's attempt to "prove" that Ventris committed suicide, a suggestion with little real evidence. Nor - for example - the claim that Ventris deserves no credit for interpreting the "button" sign: Kober never published her findings on this, and there is no evidence that Ventris plagiarised her work or was even aware of it. We would not suddenly deny Einstein credit for relativity if it were discovered that an unpublished MSS anticipating it by 10 years lurked in the Willard Gibbs archives. A small point, but symptomatic of a bias that leaves a nasty taste in the mouth. Kober does not need this: the facts are striking enough without journalistic exaggeration.

One more quibble: the page layout with double spacing and large print means you are getting much less for your money than meets the eye: at a rough estimate about 190 pages (main text, absent footnotes etc) of normal printing, not much more than in Chadwick's brief account of the decypherment.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading! 19 Aug 2013
By DixieAl
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I visit Knossos and Mycenae regularly, leading tours. In the little museum at Mycenae (and the grander one in Heraklion) we look at the 'shopping lists' of Linear B, the itemizations of cattle, grain, olive flasks, wine . . . This book gives the best overview of the translation of the Linear B tablets I have ever seen, and is written like a thrilling detective story. No dry history tome, this! And it gives credit to the hardworking American lady who laid the groundwork, painstakingly, to their decipherment. I read it on Kindle. I'm now buying it for some of my Greek friends in paperback so they, too, can share the discoveries . . .
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Human Cost of Obsession 28 Aug 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The deciphering of the Minoan tablets spanned 50 years, and required obsessive effort by the chief amateur codebreakers. In both cases, the effort was costly, and the human stories behind the decoding are vividly portrayed. I would have liked to have seen more examples of the tablets, with their decoded messages since the story of the people whose lives were recorded is astounding.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great story 21 Jan 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Don't be put off by the academic nature of this book. Margalit Fox turns the cracking of an ancient code into a cracking story. Meet Alice Kober - and why haven't we met her before? What a towering intellect, what a scholar. She worked day and night to translate a language with no reference. And she did. If someone explained this book to me I would never have read it - probably because it sounds a bit dull. But I am so glad I did.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A frist class and gripping read 27 Sep 2013
By Bill
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A beautiful written book about the discovery and (50 years later) deciphering of the Minoan Linear B language, The book really makes you think about language in spoken and written form. A language may be spoken but that does not mean to say it is has a written form. If a written form is found, what does it mean and how did it sound.? Does it run left to right or right to left? is it logographic (one symbol means a whole word), syllabic or like English, alphabetic? How do you find all this out.? A wonderful book
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The quest is more intriguing than the solution 5 Sep 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Read this book because I knew 'zilch' on the matter and it intrigued me. The book is split into 3 parts each of which deals with one the 3 characters connected with cracking the code. The author concentrates (and favours the 2nd) whom she feels has not received the attention that she deserves (echoes of the DNA code). I found the characters more interesting than the code (which turns out to be stockroom inventory) and which proves that when it comes to academic disputes Brutus does not get a look in!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Startling 17 Sep 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I chose this book after reading an article in the Guardian. It is a wonderful non-fiction book that feels almost like a detective novel. Grounding itself in facts the author manages to build a gripping story of the three people responsible in the deciphering of Linear B. Sometimes heart breaking, but never slips into sentimentality. This book actually convinced me to go to Crete and to see the ancient sites described in the book and want to learn more about the anicent people that were way beyond their peers 4000 years ago.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars How do you crack a code when you have no idea of the language? By...
This was a surprising book for me - totally different to what I expected and a joy to read. It is very literate and yet keeps the reader engaged with both the problem of decoding... Read more
Published 5 days ago by A. Toop
3.0 out of 5 stars A must-read but not a good read
Although this book focueeses on Alice Kober's contribution to the decipherment of Linear B script it also covers off both Arthur Evans and Michael Ventris and, at the end, also... Read more
Published 11 days ago by Fulvus Aper
4.0 out of 5 stars This was an absorbing read, unravelling the cracking of ...
This was an absorbing read, unravelling the cracking of Linear B, and giving a compelling sense of the principal researchers involved. Read more
Published 22 days ago by Dorothy Barbour
5.0 out of 5 stars The deciphering of Linear B is one of the great stories of scientific...
This is a superb book about a fascinating subject and the people involved in it. The deciphering of Linear B is one of the great stories of scientific archaeology of the 20th... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Prof
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
very good, very fast
Published 1 month ago by C.G. Spicer
5.0 out of 5 stars I would have liked the final section to say more about the...
A well told story that brings Alice Kober's contribution more to the fore. I would have liked the final section to say more about the decipherment progress since Ventris'... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Non-fiction but as readable as the title suggests.
This book tells how Linear B - an unknown writing system in an unknown language, recorded on ancient clay tablets - was eventually deciphered. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Rick
5.0 out of 5 stars and easily as exciting as some thrillers I have read
Despite the scholarly subject, I found this book quite approachable, well-written, and easily as exciting as some thrillers I have read. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Vero
4.0 out of 5 stars A triumph for academic code-breakers
The story of how Linear B came to be deciphered is reasonably well-known but this book does shed a slightly different light on the subject. Read more
Published 2 months ago by acol london
4.0 out of 5 stars I am pleased that, at last
I am pleased that, at last, Alice Kober has been given her due in the deciphering of Linear B. I much enjoyed reading it. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Jude
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