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Empires of the Plain: Henry Rawlinson and the Lost Languages of Babylon
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Empires of the Plain: Henry Rawlinson and the Lost Languages of Babylon

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  65 ratings  ·  13 reviews
From 1827 Henry Rawlinson, fearless soldier, sportsman and imperial adventurer of the first rank, spent twenty-five years in India, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan in the service of the East India Company. During this time he survived the dangers of disease and warfare, including the disastrous First Anglo-Afghan War. A gifted linguist, fascinated by history and exploration, he ...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published October 4th 2004 by Harper Perennial (first published December 13th 2003)
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Claire
Jul 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating and engrossing read. I've read a lot about ancient Mesopotamia but before reading this book I knew little of the incredible story behind the translation of cuneiform writing. It's amazing to think that only two hundred years ago almost nothing was known about the civilisations of Mesopotamia other than what was written in the Old Testament. While at times I yearned for more detail about the actual process of translation, I think it's better for the general reader that Adkin ...more
Avery
Jul 11, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An irritating read that I had to push through to the end. The subject is fascinating and could make for top-quality reading: Henry Rawlinson's discovery of cuneiform and ancient Babylon, true Indiana Jones type stuff. The problem is that the author doesn't really know what kind of information to supply about the discovery. Exactly the wrong kinds of background information are supplied: lengthy play-by-play summaries of diaries and letter exchanges, and irritatingly spotty passages about other re ...more
Maureen
Aug 27, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People whose interest in the subject matter will reward their plow through the book.
I found this a difficult read. The material was very interesting and Rawlinson a very interesting character: the intrepid, multi-talented British explorer, soldier and statesman of the type that kept the British Empire going for a long time. Readers interested in the politics of Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Russia and the surrounding areas will find the history of interest. But I thought that there was a narrative level missing, some way of more easily navigating all of the detail. Great credit t ...more
Sarah
Sep 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: not-finished
Abandoned on page 112 of 374. Just really dull. It’s all long quotes from sources, no real explanation and nothing that brings anything to life. Chapter 4 on Cuneiform was better and it’s possible that the book improves as more is discussed about the decipherment. However I cannot bear the thought of reading anymore to find out.
Shanthanu
This book is subtitled ``Henry Rawlinson and the Lost Languages of Babylon'', but there is a lot more Rawlinson and far too less on cuneiform or the ancient languages in question. Having read an account of Champollion's decipherment of Egyptian Hieroglyphs by the same author, I had expected something in the same vein which would describe the process of decipherment and its results in more detail.

As far as a biography of Rawlinson, I felt as another reviewer mentioned there wasn't much of a narr
...more
Liz
Jan 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well-written, really interesting book on the discoveries that we now take for granted, of the ancient Mesopotamian civilizations, their importance & relevance to us today, and of the discoverers thereof, mainly Henry Rawlinson of the East India Company.
Jessica
Gets off to a sluggish start, but picks up steam in the second half with the introduction of Rawlinson's rival Hincks.
Sue
Aug 02, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of Henry Rawlinson, who combined scholarship with adventure and exploration, to make a significant contribution to the understanding of early languages.
John
Jul 17, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wish I could have been in or seen those times in history, the awe of those sites.
Lili Kyurkchiyska
Горещо препоръчвам за хора, които тепърва навлизат в тематиката, тъй като е написана достъпно и то на базата на архивен материал. Полезна е и с това, че дава основна представа за епохата.
Converse
Apr 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Rawlinson was a major contributor to deciphering cuneiform, a set of related forms of writing used to record Sumerian, Akkadian, Elamite, and Persian. Some priority disputes with Edward Hinks
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Ian Hodkinson
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, language
A thorough and well researched account of the life and times of Henry Rawlinson who deciphered the cuneiform script used as a written record by a variety of early languages in the Middle East. Rawlinson spent much of his life in Persia, Afghanistan, Iraq and India in the 19th Century - truly one of Britain's finest. Despite being a somewhat dry subject matter, the biographical mixed with the historical and linguistic flows well.
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