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Stealing History: Tomb Raiders, Smugglers, and the Looting of the Ancient World
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Stealing History: Tomb Raiders, Smugglers, and the Looting of the Ancient World

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  263 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
Roger Atwood knows more about the market for ancient objects than almost anyone. He knows where priceless antiquities are buried, who is digging them up, and who is fencing and buying them. In this fascinating book, Atwood takes readers on a journey through Iraq, Peru, Hong Kong, and across America, showing how the worldwide antiquities trade is destroying what's left of
Hardcover, 337 pages
Published December 16th 2004 by St. Martin's Press (first published 2004)
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David Ward
Mar 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Stealing History: Tomb Raiders, Smugglers, and the Looting of the Ancient World by Roger Atwood (St. Martin's Press 2004) (364.162) is a wannabe archaeologists' dream. The book highlights the divide between private collectors (and the worldwide tomb looting that feeds the collectors' supply) and professional archaeologists (whose authorized tomb looting at least attempts to provide the historical context from which the objects are removed) and the role of museums in accepting and displaying obje ...more
John Gaudet
May 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the area of antiquity theft this book is a tour de force, a fast-paced revelation of the dark side of the modern world of antiques. Stealing antiquities in Iraq under battleground conditions, stealing them at night with tomb robbers in Peru, stealing them by lobbying in the US capitol, and stealing them by international, high stakes illicit, money-laundering operations funded by organized crime, you name it, the sky's the limit for Atwood. The most rewarding part of this book is in the last f ...more
May 18, 2008 rated it liked it
Entertaining collection of stories about why Indiana Jones is really a douchebag.
Jul 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Great book!
Kathleen McRae
May 31, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This book is full of names I won't remember. It is a detailed account of the looting at Sipan Peru with a few detours to other sites of looting.It was interesting but had such an excess of detail that eventually became plodding.
Feb 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Three stars not because I liked it personally but because it was well written. When I got this book from the local library I actually thought the book would be a history of artifacts and culture that had been stolen over many, many years. Not so. I would say the history of archeology is tricky at best as it is currently. Unfortunately the author did not adequately in my opinion argue his case. There are two arguments mentioned in this book. Pro and anti looting, however not as easy as it sounds. ...more
Anthony Romanelli
Sep 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
I found Atwood's account of tomb looting extremely interesting and his arguments for both sides of the looting debate very compelling. It made me wonder though. Atwood makes the case that the Peruvian people do not "respect" their heritage, which leads to their looting. But what gives Atwood,Alva or anyone else the authority to judge what is respect and what isn't? Granted, looting is not a good thing, but haven't colonial homes been torn down and replaced in Atwood's homeland of America? What m ...more
Sep 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
From the opening pages set in Iraq after the downfall of Saddam Hussein to the mountains of Peru to the Museum of Art in New Mexico, Atwood traces the looting of art, textiles, and other artifacts from the tomb to the looter to the middleman to the collector. He's not afraid to ask questions and follow the story. He comes up with a few solutions in the end, but how many of them will ever be followed is anyone's guess. My bet is not very many. As long as there are people willing to buy history, s ...more
Nov 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
I would give this more 3.5-4.00, but I was giving it the benefit given what other books are on the market right now. The book summary itself is a bit misleading, as it leads you to believe that you will be reading about art looting worldwide when in fact the book primarily focuses on Sipan Peru with brief, intermittent mentions of worldwide affairs. This is further complicated by the fact that the cover is a sculpture from Asia. However, this seriously misleading summary should not be its downfa ...more
Feb 03, 2015 rated it liked it
I thought this was a pretty good book. It focused on Peru, specifically Sipan, Peru and the Pre-Colombian artifacts found there. Roger Atwood did a really great job of presenting all sides of the argument in regards to the antiquities market. He showed the point of view of the looters, collectors, archaeologists, and the museums. I really liked that he did that. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn about Pre-Colombian artifacts, and their path to the museums and collections o ...more
Victoria Blacke
May 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book made me wish I was involved in a book club where I could have a detailed discussion about the moral and ethical dilemma about removing artwork from its country of origin, about private collections, about museums benefiting from past misdeeds...the topics are endless!! It definitely had it's slow parts but that was more b/c of the necessity of imparting some less than fascinating facts in order to further the story.
Wayland Smith
Jul 15, 2013 rated it liked it
It was an interesting study in the looting of historical sites, focusing especially on Peru, but also Iraq and a few other areas. It can get a bit academic, and the author gets a bit preachy at times, but it's an interesting read. It told me about a culture I'd never heard of, and gave me an idea for another story down the road. Recommended to fans of archeology, history, and the like.
Apr 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Highly intriguing and engaging, even for someone who knows very little about cultural property law, archaeology, or pre-Columbian art. Atwood is very much an activist in this book, which makes the reading very satisfying (assuming you agree with him), but it also makes me reserved in accepting everything he presens as fact. Well worth the read.
Stephen C.
Jun 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting if you're into archaeology or art history, but I could see this book getting a bit dry for other people. Reads a lot like a true crime documentary, with some exciting twists and turns as the FBI, antiquities smugglers, gangsters, and Peruvian authorities all play with and against one another.
Madeline Savage
Nov 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
A very informative book which even the beginner can pick up. A very easy read that delves into the ancient World. It has a lot of history of looting especially from the 20th century. Atwood shows the story from the perspective of looters, collectors, archeologists and law enforcers.
Aug 14, 2016 rated it liked it
The first part was a better read than the later part. Very informative and enlightening
Oct 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book SO MUCH.
Jun 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
This book is why I am going to law school- it's amazing the book hasn't fallen apart seeing as how many times I threw it on the ground, but I always picked it up again.
Jan 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
I'm a history buff and I found the writing completely dry. It wasn't descriptive enough for me. I'd enjoy this if it were a little more cerebral, even if it is a non-fiction piece.
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Byron L. Kuhn, Jr.
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根生 王
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