In most of the bookstores I walk into, the art history section is pretty lean. There are a lot of large-scale glossy photo books with the standard famous works of art in them, but not much that is critical, new, or honest.
So, when I came across Loot: The Battle Over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World, on the shelf one afternoon, I snapped it up without even reading the back cover.
Author Sharon Waxman had me from the first line, "It was just like Zahi Hawass to toss a bomb into the middle of someone else’s well-laid plans…"
For centuries, the Western world has plundered priceless treasures from the ancient world in order to fill their museums and galleries. Now, the countries where many of these ancient civilizations originated are fighting back.
Countries like Greece, Egypt, Turkey, and Italy are taking on powerhouses like the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The British Museum and the J. Paul Getty Museum causing everyone to ask the question; Who does history belong to?
In Loot, Waxman uses historical accounts and candid contemporary interviews to give readers insight into the complicated issues surrounding the antiquities trade. Full of mystery, intrigue, and conspiracy, she does a great job of making history accessible and interesting to even those who know very little about the world of cultural plunder.
A must read for any traveler — or anyone interested in art, culture, and human history.