Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland by Sally M. Walker

I'm not a big non-fiction reader, but I couldn't help but pick this one up. Written in Bone explores Colonial America through human remains found during anthropological digs. The author explains how the process occurs. Starting with how an excavation site is found, how the dig occurs, what processes occur after bones are found, right to the forensic science used to help discover what happened to these people. It is fascinating every step of the way.

I especially enjoyed the variety of stories the book contained. The author clearly went to great trouble to find a wide breadth of colonial lives. We are introduced to indentured servants, Captains, gentlemen, and slaves. We learn about what their lives were probably like, the work they did, the food they ate, the illnesses they suffered, and how they died. We've got natural deaths and unnatural (read: murder!).

The pictures and graphics were outstanding. There are photos from the digs, there are closeup studio images of bones and teeth, diagrams of graves, and recreated scenes of what they might have looked like alive. The images all complement the text and help to illustrate the point that the author is making.

The book really appealed to me both for its topic, clear writing, as well as its fantastic layout and photos. I've obviously been missing out, I need to read more non-fiction.

No comments: