From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. After covering Hollywood's cutting-edge directors (Rebels on the Backlot
), former New York Times
correspondent Waxman embarks on a grand tour of some of the world's finest museums—the Met, the Louvre, the British Museum, the Getty—and the countries from which some of their most famous antiquities were illicitly taken. Skillfully blending history and reportage, Waxman traces the stories of treasures like the Elgin Marbles, then jumps into the debate over whether they should be restored to their countries of origin. She finds no easy answers: while acknowledging the dubious means by which European and American museums acquired many antiquities, she concedes that the governments clamoring for their return don't always have adequate plans for their maintenance. (Turkey compelled the Met to hand over the famous Lydian Hoard, only to have its masterpiece stolen.) Waxman's account is animated by interviews with museum curators, accused smugglers and government officials, putting a human spin on the complex cultural politics before arriving at a middle ground that strives for international collaboration in preserving a broad, global heritage. 8-page color insert, 20 b&w photos. (Nov. 1)
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Sharon Waxman raises many challenging questions in this important, well-researched study about the conflict over classical antiquities and the breach of international regulations by Western countries. Compelling and fast-paced, the story spans countries (mostly Western) and centuries. Despite Waxman's generous narrative, a few critics thought her perspective uneven, as she favors allowing Western museums to keep their purloined treasures. Similarly, although she gives everyone equal voice—from curators to archaeologists to journalists uncovering these crimes—the museum directors and curators fare relatively badly. Despite these criticisms, Loot
offers intelligent analysis about a difficult dilemma with no easy answer.
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