Riddle of the Labyrinth

Riddle of the Labyrinth : The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code and the Uncovering of a Lost Civilisation

3.98 (3,145 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

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The decoding of Linear B is one of the world's greatest stories: from the discovery of a cache of ancient tablets recording a lost prehistoric language to the dramatic solution of the riddle nearly seventy years later, it exerts a mesmerising pull on the imagination.

But this captivating story is missing a crucial piece. Two men have dominated Linear B in popular history: Arthur Evans, the intrepid Victorian archaeologist who unearthed Linear B at Knossos and Michael Ventris, the dashing young amateur who produced a solution. But there was a third figure: Alice Kober, without whose painstaking work, recorded on pieces of paper clipped from hymn-sheets and magazines and stored in cigarette boxes in her Brooklyn loft, Linear B might still remain a mystery. Drawing on Kober's own papers - only made available recently - Margalit Fox provides the final piece of the enigma, and along the way reveals how you decipher a language when you know neither its grammar nor its alphabet as well as the stories behind other ancient languages, like the dancing-man Rongorongo of Easter Island.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 352 pages
  • 128 x 198 x 26mm | 260g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Main
  • illustrations (black and white), maps (black and white)
  • 9781781251331
  • 264,084

Review Text

An engrossing detective story of driven personalities, hidden clues, perseverance and intuition [Fox] has uncovered a remarkable woman who had been buried by history Sunday Times
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Review quote

An engrossing detective story of driven personalities, hidden clues, perseverance and intuition [Fox] has uncovered a remarkable woman who had been buried by history * Sunday Times * [Fox's] enthusiasm is compelling when talking about the raw inventive brainpower of the code-breakers, their unswerving passion, and the magical way that a set of lines and curves in clay can be transformed into something with meaning * Observer * The author's triumph lies in her presentation of this complex subject, narrated with the pace and excitement of a detective story * Country Life * Truly memerising. It's also a lovely testament to language and the history of linguistics -- Lesley McDowell * Sunday Herald * A nail-biting intellectual and cultural adventure -- Ian Finlayson * The Times * Praise for Talking Hands

'Fox provides an exhaustive, energetic and frequently elegant tour through the world of sign language and sign linguistics ... informed by the quiet passion of a natural teacher for her subject' * New York Times * A captivating and important book, minutely researched and vividly narrated -- Oliver Sacks
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About Margalit Fox

Margalit Fox is a journalist, writing for The New York Times. Originally trained as a linguist, her previous book Talking Hands was about the remarkable 'signing village' of Al-Sayyid where only sign language is used. Previously an editor at The New York Times Book Review, Margalit has written numerous articles on language, culture and ideas for The Times, New York Newsday, Variety and other publications.
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Rating details

3,145 ratings
3.98 out of 5 stars
5 30% (928)
4 45% (1,418)
3 21% (646)
2 4% (112)
1 1% (41)
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