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Sacrificing Truth : Archaeology and the Myth…

Sacrificing Truth : Archaeology and the Myth of Masada

by Nachman Ben-Yehuda

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50. Sacrificing Truth : Archaeology and the Myth of Masada by Nachman Ben-Yehuda (2002, 226 pages, read Oct 17-26)

A painful experience, and more I wanted to get out of this book the deeper I seemed to self-inflict the pain on my little overly expectant brain.

OK, let's be clear, Nachman Ben-Yehuda is apparently the main critic of Yigael Yadin's [Masada] (see my earlier review - post 43 on my LT thread*), and the criticism is necessary. And what Ben-Yehuda says is probably correct, and the ideas he says he is exploring are nothing less than fascinating. I kept reading phrases thinking that's a great idea to explore.


First - Ben-Yehuda's criticism of Yadin isn't sophisticated and doesn't require any sophistication. It's very simple. Yadin took a few archeological facts and contrived a Jewish-focused history (while ignoring or playing down what could really have been explored and fleshed out - namely the nature of Palace on Masada, before the rebellion, and the nature of the Roman seige).

And second, Ben-Yehuda's writing is painful. He constantly tells us what he is doing without actually doing it, if that makes sense. Over and over he says he is looking at the nature of falsifying scientific information scientifically, and using Masada as his medium. But what he is really doing is simply summarizing his Masada arguments (the same ones over and over), which he has previously published elsewhere. Then he gives us all these interesting ideas about how to explore what Yadin was doing and why - but never really gets very deep. Just kill me now...

If you are like me and still read the damn book (curse justified!) then you will learn several interesting things about Masada. Of course it would have been nice if all this were laid out differently. Also you will be introduced to several interesting thought points about Masada, and science, and science for propaganda, and falsifying science for propaganda, and of roll of egos in this, and all this for better or worse. This is all interesting and enlightening stuff. So there is value here...

But mainly I felt this was book talking about a completely different book that probably should have been written instead. Hated reading it, hated finding value in it, but did find value...

To see this within the context of my LT thread go here: http://www.librarything.com/topic/160515#4378206 ( )
1 vote dchaikin | Nov 25, 2013 |
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