If Marilyn Johnson’s name looks familiar you may, like me, remember her from her first book, This Book is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All. In fact, Lives in Ruins: Archaeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble basically follows the same premiss as This Book is Overdue!. Johnson immerses herself in a profession that is much mythologized but poorly understood. In the case of Lives in Ruins, that profession is archeology.
Johnson does it all: She goes to archaeology field school and gets chased down a hill in the Caribbean by killer bees. She attends classes on the nature of prehistoric man. Visits museums full of bog bodies. The book takes you inside the world of archaeologists and shows you that their “job” is more like a way of life. It also shows you that there is a lot more to being an archaeologist than digging in the dirt. And she does it with great prose and a wonderful sense of humor.
What I found kind of strange about this book was when I read This Book is Overdue it was interesting but not particularly earth shattering for me, since I am a librarian and all the stuff in the book was common knowledge to me. However with this book I found myself wanting more on each topic she covered. A more in depth look at flint napping, or a particular dig she was looking at. Because, for a career I don’t know that much about, I wanted more. So I’d say its a fantastic book you must read, but you may be coming back to the library afterwards for more on bog bodies or something. And hey, we’ve got it.