Friday, August 13, 2010

New Book: Beneath the Sands of Egypt

The Bellingham Herald (Craig Sailor)

Not a book review - more an interview with the author.

Walk in to archaeologist Don Ryan’s home library and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time to enter the parlor of a 19th century English scholar.

It’s an appropriate response. Ryan himself travels back in time on a regular basis. But for him the destination is much further: ancient Egypt.

The Pacific Lutheran University professor and alumnus has spent his career following in the footsteps of Egyptologist Howard Carter, working for his boyhood hero Thor Heyerdahl and blazing new paths in the world of archaeology.

Those stories and a lot more have just been published in “Beneath the Sands of Egypt: Adventures of an Unconventional Archaeologist” (William Morrow). It’s Ryan’s eighth book and his highest profile to date.

“This is actually the first time I’ve had a publicist,” he said.

The book is no dry desert dig. Mummies crawl from the pages along with harrowing accounts of bat-infested tombs and mountaineering adventures. It’s full of lively personal anecdotes and easy-to-digest academia. Interspersed are the archaeological gleanings, though Ryan spares us the jargon and boils it down to the salient features of his specialties.

“The fact is, the public loves archaeology and I like to share it,” Ryan says, defending against those who don’t think scientists should write popular accounts of their work. Some professionals feel such work panders to the public, Ryan says.

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