Customer Review

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real cliffhanger, 12 Jan 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Empires of the Plain: Henry Rawlinson and the Lost Languages of Babylon (Paperback)
I always look at the illustrations before starting a book. To my eyes the paintings of Henry Rawlinson showed such a mild mannered, bookish kind of person he hardly seemed to fit the hype on the cover. But I saw only a part of him. It is hard to imagine how a man of such astonishing ability could have the opportunity to develop so many of his talents these days - do men of such ability exist in these less taxing times? Rawlinson's career in the East India Company's army leads us from England to India, Afghanistan, Persia, and into Turkish Arabia and Baghdad. We explore the countries, the politics of the time, the early days of Archaeology in the region and get a fascinating glimpse of the Middle East and European attitudes as they were then. Places now so familiar from recent news crop up frequently and you wonder if much has really changed. After twenty two years of dedication to his job and studies Rawlinson is finally allowed to return to England, and along with him we exchange the heat of the desert for the heat of academic rivalry; the ambition, competition and intrigue fuelled by false friends. The difference between the circumstances, characters and techniques of Rawlinson and his chief rival Hinks is both poignant and appalling. How they solved the puzzle of cuneiform, unravelled the ancient languages and came to their interpretations would fascinate anyone who understands the structure of languages and grammar, but I must admit this bit went over my head. Not that I felt cheated, as there is so much more to this book. This is a book to inspire and to inform.
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4.6 out of 5 stars (11 customer reviews)
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A Customer