In the tradition of Simon Winchester and Dava Sobel, The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code tells one of the most intriguing stories in the history of language, masterfully blending history, linguistics, and cryptology with an elegantly wrought narrative.
When famed archaeologist Arthur Evans unearthed the ruins of a sophisticated Bronze Age civilization that flowered on Crete 1,000 years before Greece’s Classical Age, he discovered a cache of ancient tablets, Europe’s earliest written records. For half a century, the meaning of the inscriptions, and even the language in which they were written, would remain a mystery.
Award-winning New York Times journalist Margalit Fox's riveting real-life intellectual detective story travels from the Bronze Age Aegean—the era of Odysseus, Agamemnon, and Helen—to the turn of the 20th century and the work of charismatic English archeologist Arthur Evans, to the colorful personal stories of the decipherers. These include Michael Ventris, the brilliant amateur who deciphered the script but met with a sudden, mysterious death that may have been a direct consequence of the deipherment; and Alice Kober, the unsung heroine of the story whose painstaking work allowed Ventris to crack the code.
About Margalit FoxSee more books from this Author
What stays with you aren’t the wonders of ancient Crete, however, but the genuinely heroic character and tragically abbreviated life of an unsung classicist who spent all but the last year of her career as a lowly assistant professor in Brooklyn.Read Full Review of The Riddle of the Labyrinth: ... | See more reviews from NY Times
“The Riddle of the Labyrinth,” a gripping and tightly focused scholarly mystery informed by the author’s own knowledge of linguistics, recounts the story of Linear B through three people who fell under its spell.Read Full Review of The Riddle of the Labyrinth: ... | See more reviews from NY Times
...her enthusiasm is...compelling when talking about the raw inventive brainpower of the code-breakers, their unswerving passion, and the magical way that a set of lines and curves in clay can be transformed into something with meaning.Read Full Review of The Riddle of the Labyrinth: ... | See more reviews from Guardian
Fox's account runs with the pace and tension of a detective story – and has much of interest to say about language and writing systems along the way.Read Full Review of The Riddle of the Labyrinth: ... | See more reviews from Guardian
Fox’s deft explanations of the script-solving process—complete with supplemental photos and illustrations of the text—allow readers to share in the mental detective work of cracking the lost language.Read Full Review of The Riddle of the Labyrinth: ... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly
While Ms. Fox, in the manner of Dava Sobel’s Longitude, writes a compelling prose to frame a scientific detective story, Alice Kober’s heretofore neglected role in the deciphering of Linear B is the book’s other and no less important achievement.Read Full Review of The Riddle of the Labyrinth: ... | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books
Ms. Fox's bumpy retelling of the story turns out to be a riddle in itself—one unworthy of its subject.Read Full Review of The Riddle of the Labyrinth: ... | See more reviews from WSJ online
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