Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Jungle of Stone

Author: William Carlsen
Stars: 3
Review by: Mandy Apgar

OK, but oddly dissatisfying in a way I cannot quite place. Privileged American John Stephens begins exploring ancient ruins, in the beginning oddly enough as a way to preserve his declining health, and soon he uncovers hints of the Maya. Back at this time (1830s) it was thought amongst many idiots that only Anglo Saxons could build advanced cities (apparently they missed hearing about the Egyptians, well, ever) and he concluded that, if he could find the right artist capable of illustrating the things he saw, that not only would they make a great contribution to society but also a great financial windfall. Enter Frederick Catherwood, Sr., a hardscrabble Brit that agrees to his terms. Together they released an incredible book that went through several printings and exposed many to Mesoamerica. The effort however eventually came at a cost to both - continuing expeditions fractured Stephens' already perilous health, and after his passing Catherwood (whose marriage crumbled while he was absent drawing the ruins) himself met an early end.

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