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Bloody Old Britain: O.G.S. Crawford and the Archaeology of Modern Life Hardcover – 1 May 2008
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Fascinating and inspired...[an] absorbing and highly original book.
-- Literary Review
Hauser's biography casts a sideways shadow on the Britishness we are now trying to define. -- The Times
Kitty Hauser has produced a brilliant biography, dealing not only with the man but also the age.
-- Current Archaeology
The fact that Kitty Hauser has managed to construct such a compelling read ... represents a triumph. -- The Sunday Telegraph
[A] cautionary tale of hubris and ideology, told with imagination and wry sympathy. -- The Sunday Times
[A] powerful beautifully focused biography. -- Mail on Sunday
[An] impressive piece of intellectual history; strangely moving, and impeccably written.
-- The Independent
[It] resurrects an intriguing character from the history of archaeology...[and] recreates a vanished way of looking at history itself. -- BBC History Magazine
About the Author
Kitty Hauser is the author of "Stanley Spencer" and "Shadow Sites: Photography, Archaeology and the British Landscape."
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During the First World War, he flew missions over the Western front photographing German trenches and gun placements, learning the new skills of reading the earth from above. This led to his later, original work in aerial photography, whose invention was for archaeology what the invention of the telescope was for astronomy.
Crawford's sensitivity made him a good observer and also a good photographer. He took thousands of photographs of everyday things, adverts, horse-drawn carts, graffiti, churches and other buildings, as well as of archaeological sites and finds.
At the Ordnance Survey, he collected archaeological data county by county. He had "a faith in evidence, a faith in consequences, a faith that history had a pattern, and a faith in our ability as camera-wielding human observers to make that pattern out." He played a big role in turning archaeology into a profession.
He became a friend of the Soviet Union, and believed in a future socialist Britain. Like the scientist J. D. Bernal though, he thought that the advance of science, not class struggle, would end capitalism. Lacking any knowledge of Britain's trade unions, and with no concept of workers' nationalism, he took a negative attitude to Britain, hence the title of his unpublished manuscript of the late 1930s, from which Ms Hauser took her title.
Unfortunately, Ms Hauser shows little sense of why so many people respected the Soviet Union. The book would also have benefited if she had a better grasp of archaeology, and if she had included a proper bibliography of Crawford's writings. So this is a good introduction to this intense, awkward and original man, but not a definitive biography.
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