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review 2018-10-02 08:06
The Indus by Andrew Robinson
The Indus: Lost Civilizations (Reaktion Books - Lost Civilizations) - Andrew Robinson

TITLE:  The Indus:  Lost Civilizations

 

AUTHOR:  Andrew Robinson

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  2015

 

FORMAT:  Hardcover

 

ISBN-13:  9781780235028

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DESCRIPTION

When Alexander the Great invaded the Indus Valley in the fourth century BCE, he was completely unaware that it had once been the center of a civilization that could have challenged ancient Egypt and neighboring Mesopotamia in size and sophistication. In this accessible introduction, Andrew Robinson tells the story—so far as we know it—of this enigmatic people, who lay forgotten for around 4,000 years.

 

Going back to 2600 BCE, Robinson investigates a civilization that flourished over half a millennium, until 1900 BCE, when it mysteriously declined and eventually vanished. Only in the 1920s, did British and Indian archaeologists in search of Alexander stumble upon the ruins of a civilization in what is now northwest India and eastern Pakistan. Robinson surveys a network of settlements—more than 1,000—that covered over 800,000 square kilometers. He examines the technically advanced features of some of the civilization’s ancient cities, such as Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, where archaeologists have found finely crafted gemstone jewelry, an exquisite part-pictographic writing system (still requiring decipherment), apparently Hindu symbolism, plumbing systems that would not be bettered until the Roman empire, and street planning worthy of our modern world. He also notes what is missing: any evidence of warfare, notwithstanding an adventurous maritime trade between the Indus cities and Mesopotamia via the Persian Gulf. 

 

A fascinating look at a tantalizingly “lost” civilization, this book is a testament to its artistic excellence, technological progress, economic vigor, and social tolerance, not to mention the Indus legacy to modern South Asia and the wider world. “

 

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This is a short, nicely written, but scholarly summary of what is known about the Indus Civilization, which covered a large area in present day Pakistan and India from approximately 2600 to 1900 B.C.  Robinson briefly describes the discovery of this lost civilization, the problematic archaeology of the sites, the arts, crafts, agriculture, trade, possible social structure, religion, decline and disappearance.  The Indus script is also discussed in much detail.  Since little is known about this civilization despite the artefacts, a great deal of this book is speculative, but the author differentiates with what was found in terms of archaeology and the natural environmental, and what is more probably or less likely.  The general consensus is that more archaeological finds are necessary and that the script needs to be deciphered before any more definitive information about the Lost Indus Civilization can be revealed.  I found this book interesting and to be a good introduction to the subject.  The numerous photographs, maps and other illustrations were helpful.

 

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review 2018-09-09 15:31
More Personal Than Authoritative
The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time - David L. Ulin

This version of The Lost Art of Reading by David L. Ulin is a revised edition previously published in 2010.  It contains a new Introduction and Afterword reflecting important cultural and technological changes that have occurred over the past eight years.  Ulin uses these updated sections to describe and bemoan current trends in the US in terms of freedom of speech, privacy concerns, censorship controversies, and race relations.  He does not hesitate to excoriate the election results of 2016, making his political opinions pretty clear from the start when he describes: “…the racist rhetoric that runs, like excrement, from the President’s mouth.”   It seems that Ulin could have written a separate book on that subject, especially given the fact that these parts of the book take up almost 25% of the total.  The rest of The Lost Art of Reading contains some very personal anecdotes and broad assumptions based on seemingly only on his own experience.  The author digresses into history and sports analogies, explaining that everything can be considered a “story” and is thus relevant to his discussion.  Ulin relates his own dismay at discovering an uncharacteristic inability to maintain sustained attention and interest in his reading.  He uses the frame of helping his son with a school assignment to demonstrate the younger generation’s lack of interest in traditional modes of reading. He notes that the Internet, with its sheer saturation effect and many distractions, has impeded people’s ability to concentrate on text as is required.  He also seems skeptical of the value of e-readers and cites their limitations, although his observations are based on outdated technology from 2010. This new release of The Lost Art of Reading would have benefitted from a complete update throughout so advances in this area could have been considered.  Ulin’s book is most interesting if approached more like an extended essay or personal memoir than a definitive text.  Those seeking a research-based or global approach to current trends in reading would be better served by searching elsewhere.

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review 2018-07-16 08:26
Lost Books and Old Bones (Scottish Bookshop Mystery, #3)
Lost Books and Old Bones - Paige Shelton

Eh.  Not great, but not bad.  The MC, Delaney was pushy - I'd have gotten really shirty with her had I been one of the other characters.  Very woman-with-a-mission; even though it wasn't of the 'I can do the police's job better' variety, it was still overbearing and unrealistic.

 

I did like the Burke and Hare theme though, and I thought they mystery itself was well plotted and a little diabolical, even if part of it didn't work.

 

The murder suspect is accused of killing three patients on the table - the first one is called a botched appendectomy.  So if he isn't the murderer, how did the real murderer kill three of his patents in surgery while making it look like his fault?  If they happened post op, it was never specified.

(spoiler show)

 

I usually like these for the ambiance (Edinburgh), this history sprinkled throughout and the setting of a bookshop with an attached room of treasures, collected over time by the owner.  I'll keep reading them, unless Delaney continues to be pushy and overbearing.  

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review 2018-04-20 18:51
Lost Books and Old Bones
Lost Books and Old Bones - Paige Shelton

Why did I pick up this book? I had never heard of the author and this is the first book I have read by her. I liked the title and the cover picture. That was all, pure and simple. I walked into the library and saw another title by an author that I wanted to read and there was this book. I picked it up and read a little here and there until today, today I worked hard to finish the story. 

 

Delaney is an American from Kansas, who is living and working in Scotland at a bookshop owned by Edwin. She is there to make sense of all the things in his hidden room. Check it's provenance and see what it is worth and where it should be (a museum, a university or sold to Edwin's buyers). One night, she is out on the town with two new friends who are older students at the medical school and a friend of theirs. But the night turns strange and they leave to go their separate ways. She goes to her boyfriend's pub and then to her workspace, they to their flats or so they say. The next morning, the friend of the two medical students is found in the close (alley) behind the bookshop, a window is broken, the front door is open and things take a twist from there. 

 

Paige Shelton, the author, does a lot of research on her books, she introduces the reader to Burke and Hare who murdered people to sell to the medical school in the early 1900's. She even puts in a story about another man who pretends to be a doctor, but actually was not. 

 

The story is part of a series, but I would never have known if not for little things like Hamlet, a college student who works in the shop, helping to translate Scottish style words for Delaney (and the American reader) and other little things that do not detract from the book. A thoroughly enjoyable read with a twist at the end. 

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review 2018-03-17 16:06
Lost Books and Old Bones
Lost Books and Old Bones - Paige Shelton

For me, this one was just...okay. There was virtually no context to introduce the new characters and I just didn't connect with them. It was an great plot, lots of twists and turns and the very creepy Dr Eben. I enjoyed the history (The Burke & Hare story is always fascinating) and of course, the little bookshop and its treasures, both human and inanimate, are a big draw for me but I found it was difficult to hold my interest and I struggled to finish it. Still, this is a great series and there's a lot to love for cozy mystery fans.

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