Life in Ruins

Life in Ruins focuses on the fascinating adventures and frustrations of archaeologists around the world. | A book review by Newbery and Beyond

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an archaeologist. (Yes, I was a weird kid.) I was fascinated by stories of famous discoveries, and I devoured book after book on archaeology, ancient Egypt, and particularly Howard Carter and King Tut’s tomb. As time passed, I realized that standing outside in the hot sun and digging incredibly slowly and carefully was probably not the career for me, but I still possess a fascination for the career.

Because of this, I was immediately hooked by Life in Ruins. This book covers the adventures and trials of archaeologists working in fields around the world. The author, while not an archaeologist herself, goes on several digs and conferences in order to get a real feel for the profession, and the reader benefits greatly from this. We get to go on digs in the tropics and on islands, as well as an aquatic site of a famous shipwreck and a Revolutionary War grave site.

One of the most interesting parts of the book to me was the forensic archaeology section! Who knew such a career existed? So awesome. Plus, apparently you can pay to be a volunteer at a dig? Maybe my archaeological dreams weren’t so far-fetched after all!

This book also covers the frustrations of archaeologists. Many of them lament the current state of affairs, in which many potential archaeological sites are bulldozed and built over before it can be verified, simply because land owners and business people are impatient to get their money’s worth and not be bothered by potentially lengthy digs which would halt their progress. How sad, that so much history around the world is being destroyed because of impatience!

Basically, if you’ve ever been interested in archaeology, you’ll love this book. But if I’m the only one who thought that would be an awesome career, I think this book may change your mind. Johnson writes in an engaging style that is sure to capture your interest, even if you’ve never once thought of being an archaeologist.

Rating: Pretty Darn Good

About Monica

I am obsessed with all things books. I'm a music teacher by day and a freelance editor by night.

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