The biggest problem a student faces when reading a scientific text, is determining its validity as compared to recent research and discoveries. All too often the library is searched for a text covering a specific topic. More times than not the search reveals only one text that is twenty or more years out of date. Such is the case with "Men Who Dig Up History," by Lynn and Gray Poole.
"Men Who Dig Up History" was published in 1968 and is written at a junior high level. Upon examination of the first page I noticed a list of other books written by the Pooles for Dodd, Mead & Company. There were at least thirty other books ranging from "Weird and Wonderful Plants" to "Danger! Icebergs Ahead!" While that doesn't necessarily prevent the text from being valuable to youngsters, I really don't think it had any place in a university library.
Upon reading the text it became swiftly evident that the Pooles were not experts in the field of archaeology. Nor were they especially inclined to consider it above other sciences. Indeed, it would appear that the Pooles were simply anthologists, paid to pump out one dreary yet vaguely informative book after another.
The Pooles were the assassins sent by the school board to eliminate a lack of youngster interest in the sciences. Their methods included the infusion of excitement and interesting biographical information into what was considered by most young people as a lackluster career field.
In their task the Pooles met with dismal failure. So dreary was this book that I could hardly read three or four pages without passing out in a delirious haze of boredom. Because of this propensity towards induced slumber it took me an amazing and unprecedented three weeks to complete this tome of inadequacy.
Which isn't to say that the book wasn't completely without its merits. The text did include interesting biographical information that I had not found in other sources. This can only be attributed to the fact the authors received personal assistance from each of the scientists featured; A task that could not be accomplished today because most or because most of those scientists are now dead.
Because of the personal assistance accorded the authors, the book was full of relevant and tasty bits of information which I'm saddened to say, may not be found anywhere else. It was helpful however, in establishing background and motivation for the subjects and their eventual chosen careers. I am positive that outlining the motivation for these scientists' discoveries was not accidental. Quite the opposite, I am convinced that motivation of young minds was the intent of the authors. So intent were they on this single task, that portions of the book read like scientific propaganda.
The final good word that I have for "Men Who Dig Up History" is that it helped me to finally understand carbon-14 dating. For some time the nature of this process has eluded me. No matter how it was explained I frequently misunderstood. Perhaps it was the simple wording of the text, or perhaps it was the near hypnotic state that the book often trapped me in. No matter the reason, I did learn something from it and in that it validated itself.
So, did I enjoy reading "Men Who Dig Up History?" No. I did not. It was a trial at the best of times. Would I recommend it to a friend? I think that I shall probably have nothing but bad things to say about this book for some time. In that respect I would not recommend it to anyone.
The book had many problems linked to the authors poor writing style and the dated nature of the material covered. It occasionally made up for these delinquencies by including the occasional, interesting side note. These infrequent gems did not compensate for the remaining portion of the text.
Why didn't you just select another book? Perhaps even one you could find interesting?
I can't fault your review, but I can your choice of books
Note: The book was on the list of approved texts
Another contribution from the University works of Roninspoon.