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House of Rain: Tracking a Vanished Civilization Across the American Southwest Paperback – July 3, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
Through his reading of scholarly sources and history, seeking out of oral histories and traditions, and hundreds of miles of walking the landscape in search of clues, Craig Childs has turned his considerable talents for reading the landscape and turning his observations into wonderful prose towards the mystery of what happened to the Anasazi of 800 to 1000 years ago. He has canvassed the region, including Northern Mexico, to find out how this ancient civilization converged on places like Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde, where its culture thrived and flourished. And why these hubs of civilization dried up and its people seemingly scattered into the wind.
House of Rain isn't about finding definitive answers to the questions concerning these ancient peoples - the details we may never know; instead, this book is about the discovery and exploration of the mysteries of those who came before us on this land. We seek out these ancient civilizations because we hope, no we believe that through the journey of discovery we will find a piece of ourselves...and then maybe the answers we hope will help us in our future.
A Guide to my Book Rating System:
1 star = The wood pulp would have been better utilized as toilet paper.
2 stars = Don't bother, clean your bathroom instead.
3 stars = Wasn't a waste of time, but it was time wasted.
4 stars = Good book, but not life altering.
5 stars = This book changed my world in at least some small way.
In HOUSE OF RAIN: TRACKING A VANISHED CIVILIZATION ACROSS THE AMERICAN SOUTHWEST, Craig Childs chronicles his studies of the lost Anasazi through exploration of ruins and pottery finds.
While this may sound dry at first glance, Childs succeeds at assembling his research and adventures into readable form. Part narrative and part scholarly writing, HOUSE OF RAIN is informative without being dull, which opens it to not only students in the field, but also to people genuinely interested in history and archaeology.
Although Childs's style in engaging, the constant transitions between stories of his on-site explorations and the offering of hard fact can be confusing. Childs frequently skips between memories of various digs, walking journeys, and times when he's been allowed access to artifacts and secluded sites. It's hard to keep track of where and when he's talking about when he skips around in this manner.
Aside from the mild confusion occasionally elicited by the scattered narrative, HOUSE OF RAIN has a great deal to offer history buffs. Readers' eyes will be opened by Childs's observations and depth of knowledge. There are no set answers, but he offers salient points that may go a long way to suggesting what really happened to the mysterious Anasazi.
Reviewed by Christina Wantz Fixemer
That said, you don't need to read Craig Childs to tell you that. A number of good modern authors, not necessarily Ph.D. anthropologists, have been writing about that for going on a decade.
That then said, Childs book has a wider geographic and chronological spread than others of these books. Starting with the rise of Chaco Canyon, he takes us through Mesa Verde, Kayenta and the Mogollon Rim down into northeastern Sonora, and runs from around 1000 CE to first Spanish contact in Sonora and the start of written history.
He uses pottery, architecture, skeletal and skeletal DNA evidence to trace the movement of the Ancestral Puebloans (the best term, rather than either Anasazi or Hisatsinom) to across all these areas.
His thought provocation includes wondering what level of culture, religious observance, etc., these peoples had at different times and places in their history. Since his beat, as a layperson, tends more toward archaeology than anthropology, he doesn't get into these issues too much, but does stimulate thought.
That said, this book isn't five-star, or even quite four-star, for a few reasons.
I was going to four-star at first, but just couldn't quite pull the trigger, especially based on what this book could have been versus what it actually is.
1. The "personal happenings" anecdotes are longer, and contribute less to the flow of the narrative, than in, say, David Roberts in "In Search of the Old Ones."
2. Without revealing too much about site locations, Childs could at least have had a few general area maps in the book. Again, compare Roberts.
3.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The author traces a lost people over the entire Southwest into Mexico. Great research and readingPublished 20 days ago by uncledevo
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I was looking for some background on the Anasazi (Ancestral Pueblo) prior to trip out to southern Utah and what I ended up with was a... Read morePublished 22 days ago by Victor P. Zabielski
I'm in the middle of this book and really enjoying it. We have walked in many of the Anasazi ruins so I'm fascinated to learn more. Easy readying too.Published 2 months ago by Damon Newsom
Excellent. Read this just after my first trip to the Four Corners, including Mesa Verde, Canyonlands, Monument Valley, Kenyata, Canyon de Shelly, and Chaco. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Scott Lyford
I have only begun the first few chapters of this book and am enjoying immensely the writing style of this author. His descriptive words are a pleasure to read and very poetic. Read morePublished 5 months ago by avid reader U.S.