Thursday, February 09, 2012

What is Jeffrey Abt reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Jeffrey Abt, author of American Egyptologist: The Life of James Henry Breasted and the Creation of His Oriental Institute.

His entry begins:
My day-to-day reading usually consists of books and articles by scholars for whom, it often seems, writing is like truck building. Their vehicles are plain and sturdy, and they reliably if ponderously deliver the goods. After spending many hours with these kinds of writings, I feel the need to inoculate myself against being affected by that approach. I’ve done so by returning to old literary favorites that, although less efficient conveyances, are nonetheless skillfully crafted and often very beautiful. The most recently read among these are works by Truman Capote, Eudora Welty, and E. B. White.

Readers often know Capote through works that were made into major films such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s or In Cold Blood. I much prefer his earlier writings including The Grass Harp and the novel I just reread, Other Voices, Other Rooms. I particularly admire the...[read on]
About American Egyptologist, from the publisher:
James Henry Breasted (1865–1935) had a career that epitomizes our popular image of the archaeologist. Daring, handsome, and charismatic, he traveled on expeditions to remote and politically unstable corners of the Middle East, helped identify the tomb of King Tut, and was on the cover of Time magazine. But Breasted was more than an Indiana Jones—he was an accomplished scholar, academic entrepreneur, and talented author who brought ancient history to life not just for students but for such notables as Teddy Roosevelt and Sigmund Freud.

In American Egyptologist, Jeffrey Abt weaves together the disparate strands of Breasted’s life, from his small-town origins following the Civil War to his evolution into the father of American Egyptology and the founder of the Oriental Institute in the early years of the University of Chicago. Abt explores the scholarly, philanthropic, diplomatic, and religious contexts of his ideas and projects, providing insight into the origins of America’s most prominent center for Near Eastern archaeology.

An illuminating portrait of the nearly forgotten man who demystified ancient Egypt for the general public, American Egyptologist restores James Henry Breasted to the world and puts forward a brilliant case for his place as one of the most important scholars of modern times.
Learn more about American Egyptologist at the University of Chicago Press website and Jeffrey Abt's website.

My Book, The Movie: American Egyptologist.

The Page 99 Test: American Egyptologist.

Writers Read: Jeffrey Abt.

--Marshal Zeringue