|Max Mallowan, Agatha Christie and Leonard Wooley at Ur, 1931|
This memoir was written in response to a question she was often asked at parties by people who were curious to know what happened on a dig so far from modern civilization. However the memoir is also a memoir of how the work that Max and his fellow diggers did at the sites helped to reveal how previous civilizations had lived, Max was continually asking the "Come tell me how you live" question while digging.
It's an amazing account of a bygone world, the world of Syria and Iraq between the wars, where enormous advances were being made in knowledge of ancient civilizations. It's also the story of friendships formed when people are thrust together. It's often very funny, sometimes moving, and sometimes just makes you gasp at unusual facts or events. It's an amazing read, it's only a short book, but it stays with you. It's written in Christie's usual fairly simple style, there's nothing complicated re archaeology in it, but the simplicity never gets in the way of realising what a complex and important job these people are doing. I loved this book, and would recommend it to anyone interested in travel, history or archaeology. Great read, an unexpected joy.