South Lake Tahoe, CA, United States | Member Since 2007
This book is about scientists digging up the bones of the earliest immigrant settlers of our country, mostly people from England who died in the 1600's. It is not too scientific to capture anyone's attention. The narrator is good, but I lopped off a star because he tries to replicate the voices of scientists who are being quoted. I don't care if a scientist has a brogue or is a woman with a cute little voice. Indeed, the narrator himself doesn't seem comfortable switching into those different voices! That said, the book is endlessly fascinating in telling of how various early graves are located and respectfully opened, the bones studied, etc. The graves are given very scientific monikers, but then as Walker describes the contents and the results of tests, we begin to see real people who worked very hard, who had just arrived or who had been eating an American corn diet for some time. We know which ones were plagued by painful life-threatening rotten teeth and in most cases how they died. We find out that they were not buried in clothes because clothes were so valuable! The shrouds were held together by straight pins. The custom of wrapping babies tightly in swaddling clothes prevented their getting the Vitamin D in sunshine, and the babies suffered from rickets. One very upscale lady tried to whiten her teeth, to the great detriment of the teeth! One young man had an Indian arrowhead in his thigh! Another was probably murdered or so overworked and mistreated that he didn't have a chance in the New World. Study of bones can show great physical effort in a lifetime, whether it is a 17th Century indentured servant or a modern weight-lifter! I wonder if the book included pictures and if so, I would like to see them. One Negro girl was recreated the way some police work with bones to arrive at a good idea what she looked like. In a few cases, the researchers could make very good guesses as to the names of individuals.
This book could help a young person choose a career or at least study harder the requisite sciences. Highly recommended for a bright ten-year-old and up and up! Just way too short!
Somehow I had expected this would be simply Tom Paine's writing, not a whole book about him. History, philosophy and politics are not my strengths, but I've lived long enough and traveled enough that I do care about these things. I found another audio book on the same topics, Founding Brothers, very difficult listening, although I believed it was well narrated. This book by contrast is almost suspenseful. The narrator reads with great understanding, but the book is written so as to be interesting. This author has an exciting mind!
Back in high school I didn't really get it about the deists. And who cared about the Louisiana Purchase? Paine was already trying to solve the problem of slavery, develop a plan for freed slaves. Paine even foresaw a need for a welfare system. Well, goodness! It's a most stimulating book. Educational, exciting, most worthwhile.
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