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When the Land Was Young: Reflections on American Archaeology by Sharman Apt Russell

1996; 230 pp. $23. Addison-Wesley.

Sharman Russell has crafted an engaging, pleasurable introduction to some of the most compelling issues being tackled by North American archaeologists. Who were the first Americans and when did they come? How can we construct the long-neglected realm of women's roles in the past, and how do women fit now, within the realm of contemporary archaeology? What are the politics, ethics, and matters of spirituality involved in studying Indians and their ancestors' remains? Russell addresses these questions with a refreshing honesty and even-handedness founded on solid research.

Each chapter reads as an independent story, one in a series of her personal forays into the past. She also delves into the minds and lives of dynamic men and women grappling with the construction and stewardship of our country's heritage. Russell places herself firmly in the picture, as mother, as middle-aged woman, as not only a professional scientist, but also a person with a deep attachment to the land. Her awe of the past's mysteries is palpable, and her enthusiasm is infectious.

To borrow the word of archaeologist Robin Fox, this is a "paleoterrific" read.

 

ISBN: 0803289871

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