"Adventurous Efforts to Discover and Reconstruct the
a review by Carroll Quigley in The Washington Sunday Star,
February xx, 1964,
of two books:
ROAD TO NINEVEH: The Adventures and Excavations of Sir Austen
by Nora Benjamin Kubie.
Doubleday & Company: New York, 1964
by Ernie Bradford.
Harcourt, Brace & World: New York, 1964
"Adventurous Efforts to Discover
and Reconstruct the Past"
ROAD TO NINEVEH: THE ADVENTURES AND EXCAVATIONS OF SIR AUSTEN HENRY
By Nora Benjamin Kubie.
324 pp. (Doubleday & Company; $5.95).
By Ernie Bradford.
238 pp. (Harcourt, Brace, & World; $4.75)
Efforts by historians to discover and
reconstruct the past do not always consist of solitary musings over
dusty tomes in an ivory tower. They are sometimes adventurous and
dangerous, similar to the actions of an explorer or a detective, seeking
to find and evaluate scattered and exciting evidence in remote places.
These two books are concerned with such efforts, one in the decaying
Ottoman Empire more than a century ago, and the other on the waters of
the Mediterranean Sea in recent years.
The content of the Layard volume is described in its sub-title:
"Adventures and Excavations" -- followed through chapter headings such
as "The Lawless Mountains", "Castle of the Robber Baron", or "Buried
Treasure". It gives a vivid picture of the political chaos and
corruption of western Asia in 1839-1851, when the young Layard explored
the area and found the ruins of Nineveh and the objects which still form
the core of the British Museum’s Assyrian collection. The writing is
vivid and presents a fair assessment of Layard’s work and adventures.
Those who want a more complete account of Layard the man and of his
amazing subsequent career as Member of Parliament, Under-Secretary for
Foreign Affairs, and Ambassador to Madrid and to Constantinople may go
on to Gordon Waterfield’s biography, "Layard of Nineveh", based on a
thorough study of Layard's papers, which was published in London last
September. But this book of Nora Kubie’s provides an excellent
introduction to a most extraordinary man.
Ernie Bradford is also an extraordinary man, although his book is
more concerned with Ulysses than with himself. But the author shines
through. His Search for Ulysses kept him sailing the Mediterranean for
seven years, tasting winds, water conditions, and landfalls against the
scattered and incidental references in Homer’s epic. No better man for
the task could have been found, for Bradford is a shrewd judge of men,
of places, of seamanship, and of documentary evidence. When his work was
done, he had found Ulysses as a vivid and concrete personality and had
established his course and adventures in a convincing way. To complete
the task, he has told the story in a book which is delightful in
conception, style, and presentation, including the delicate little line
sketches heading each chapter. As an old-time lover of Homer and of
oceanic small-boat sailing, I enjoyed every word.
-- Carroll Quigley