This was a really great read. The author does a fabulous job explaining the nuances of language and translation in a highly entertaining way. I definitely recommend this book, whether you're into language, ancient history or just a smart read.
A fascinating story of the discovery and decipherment of the script known as Linear B. Author Fox, writes in a clear, precise and eloquent style and brings life to the story of the 3 primary players in this true story spanning 50+ years.
She also has a clear fondness for Alice Kober, the American who spent 20+ years painstakingly working on deciphering Linear B in near obscurity. Alice Kober nearly solved the puzzle, but died before she could accomplish that feat. Fox's motivation and purpose with this book was to tell the story of Linear B but also to right the wrong of Alice Kober's nearly forgotten but immense contribution to the solution. Michael Ventris, a British architect, solved the puzzle a mere 2 years after Kober's death but could not have done so without Alice Kober's work before him.
I found myself wanting Alice Kober to find the solution because it meant so much to her. But even knowing in advance that she died before achieving her goal (it was on the book jacket), I never the less felt the sting and sadness of her untimely death.
A well written story of the hunt for unlocking the secret of Linear B but also of the 3 lives who spent so much time and energy on its solution.
This page turner is as much about the gender restrictions and class barriers that prevented American female classicist, Alice Koper, from advancing her language structure revealing analyses through to a final solution prior to her early death. This documentary can be slightly too technical at times. Fox provides endnotes, references, and an index.
I highly recommend this book.
A book about the decipherment of an ancient script that is as exciting as a thriller. If you like puzzles, you'll enjoy this book.
Well written and very interesting. Baker and Taylor's description says it's about 3 men driven to unlock one of the great secrets of human history, but the central figure is a woman whose exceptional talents and determination provided the pivotal information leading to success.
In 1900, a Victorian archeologist named Arthur Evans discovered a cache of tablets covered in an unknown language. Linear B confounded decoding efforts for the next 52 years, until it was suddenly solved by Michael Ventris, an obsessive architect without academic training or credentials. Ventris built his solution on the work of Alice Kober, an American Classicist whose years of labour on the project have gone largely unrecognized until now. This is the unlikely grist for a terrific book that reveals as much about the 20th century as it does about 1450 BCE.
The book is divided into three parts, each covering the main players in the drama, and despite the reader knowing the outcome from the beginning, the author manages to build an atmosphere of suspense as the quest progresses. There is tragedy and hope, sexism and cigarettes; the all-too-human foibles of the characters described make this so much more than a dry and dusty academic tome.
A patron review from the Adult Summer Reading Game: This is a fascinating chronicle of the deciphering of Linear B. The author begins with the discovery of the tablets and tells of the characters who puzzled and obsessed over them for the next fifty years. While her linguistic and archaeological research is impressive, she also weaves in the stories of the most important participants in the work. Most importantly, this book is a tribute to the dogged work of its unsung hero, Alice Kober, who dedicated years of her life and her exceptional intellect to finding a solution.
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