Karl Meyer Reviews “Loot” at Truthdig.net

I count as very high praise indeed the review by Karl Meyer at Truthdig.net today. Meyer, a former editorial writer at The New York Times and foreign correspondent before that, wrote the definitive book about the issues of plundered antiquities some 35 years ago, called "The Plundered Past." (I refer to it in my introduction.) […]

I count as very high praise indeed the review by Karl Meyer at Truthdig.net today. Meyer, a former editorial writer at The New York Times and foreign correspondent before that, wrote the definitive book about the issues of plundered antiquities some 35 years ago, called "The Plundered Past." (I refer to it in my introduction.) Meyer drew attention to what was, at the time, a problem completely ignored by the general public. He noticed what was happening in developing countries – illicit digging, smuggling, the ruin of archeological sites – not because he was an art expert, but because he was a good reporter who paid attention, and cared.

I note this especially because it was a pattern I discovered in my research of "Loot". Often the person who brought the problem of looted antiquities to the fore was some lone reporter – not a member of the art or museum establishment – who figured it out on his or her own, and took considerable risks to tell the truth. (You'll meet them in the book.)

Here's a part of what Meyer says: "I devoured “Loot: The Battle over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World” with particular zest, having published in 1973 an earlier account of the same cultural underworld, “The Plundered Past.” A seasoned reporter with an Oxford degree in Middle East studies, Sharon Waxman has updated and surpassed my explorations, in part because the outcry over the illicit traffic has reached fever pitch, provoking voluble, angry and indiscreet utterances from curators, collectors, dealers and a new breed of watchdogs: The first merit of Waxman’s book, the best on its subject, is her verbatim account of conversations with everybody who matters in the antiquities trade. …And let it be said that while Sharon Waxman’s study offers no novel answers, she poses all the right questions."