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Editors' Picks Volume 58 Number 5, September/October 2005

Desert Queen

As Iraq struggles to become a democracy, readers may want to know how the modern state came to be. An important player was archaeologist, explorer, and political powerhouse Gertrude Bell, Iraq's first Director of Antiquities and the founder of the National Museum of Iraq. As the first woman officer in British military intelligence, she gained the trust of powerful sheiks in the Middle East and was key to the creation of the national borders--and international conflicts--that still exist in the Middle East today. Two recent books revisit this remarkable Victorian: Janet Wallach's Desert Queen (New York: Anchor Books, 2005; $15.95), a new edition of the highly respected biography with a new afterword by the author; and H.V.F. Winstone's Gertrude Bell (London: Barzan Publishing, 2004; $29.95), a substantially revised, updated, and enlarged edition of his seminal 1978 biography.
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Gertrude Bell

Stukeley's Stonehenge

In the early eighteenth century, the famous British antiquarian William Stukeley (1687-1765) conducted fieldwork at Stonehenge, one of the first to do so. Now for the first time, his detailed reports from the early years of his work have been published with Stukeley's Stonehenge: An Unpublished Manuscript, 1721-1724 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005; $45) by British archaeologists Aubrey Burl and Neil Mortimer. Stukeley's field notes are interspersed with contemplations on the site's construction and meaning: "Nothing in nature could be of a more simple Idea than this vast circle of stones, & yet its effect is truly majestic, & venerable, which is the main requisite in sacred structures."
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© 2005 by the Archaeological Institute of America