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 "Adventurous Efforts to Discover and Reconstruct the Past",
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 Henry Layard,
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"


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



Scan of original review



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