Sorry for the long post in advance, it’s been a long time since I’ve read a book about museums and antiquities and I forgot how much I love them and how much they make me think!
This book has been on my to-be-read shelf since July of 2011 and I can’t believe I waited this long to read it! I will never forget my first Anthropology class in undergrad and the professor going off on a tangent about the looting of the museums after the fall of Saddam Hussein. It pretty much guaranteed I would be an Anthropology major. (I later switched to cultural anthropology and focused on gender in the media, but still the people were awesome!) The intrigue, the drama, the affairs and the crimes, it could be a spy novel if it were fiction and not fact! This book will count as a bonus book for my 2013 Mount TBR Reading Challenge.
What’s important to note is that this book is not academic, Waxman wrote the book for a general audience and in this she succeeds. There are very few things that would go above someone’s head who doesn’t have a degree or a heavy interest in Ancient History, Anthropology, Archaeology or Art History. She, or her editors, appear to have been very aware of this and kept to the journalistic research intent of the book.
However, this also work against her and ultimately I felt the entire purpose of writing the book got lost. Someone on Goodreads tagged the book as ‘ending goes south’ and that’s an apt description. Waxman keeps building the crescendo and it gets to a point where you just want her to tell you what happens. And then she reminds you that all of this is still happening and things are still changing rapidly totally dampens the bang that could’ve ended the book.