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In Search of the Old Ones Paperback – April 9, 1997


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In Search of the Old Ones + House of Rain: Tracking a Vanished Civilization Across the American Southwest
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (April 9, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684832127
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684832128
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,904 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Roberts describes the culture of the Anasazi--the name means "enemy ancestors" in Navajo--who once inhabited the Colorado Plateau and whose modern descendants are the Hopi Indians of Arizona. Archaeologists, Roberts writes, have been puzzling over the Anasazi for more than a century, trying to determine the environmental and cultural stresses that caused their society to collapse 700 years ago. He guides us through controversies in the historical record, among them the haunting question of whether the Anasazi committed acts of cannibalism. Roberts's book is full of up-to-date thinking on the culture of the ancient people who lived in the harsh desert country of the Southwest. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Six hundred years ago, the Anasazi, said to be the ancestors of the Hopi, Zuni and other Pueblo peoples, left their homes in the region known as the Four Corners, where Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona converge, and disappeared. They had inhabited the area for perhaps 5000 or more years. They left behind pots, weavings, tools, monuments, human remains and, above all, their astounding cliff "palaces," containing apartments of as many as 20 rooms each. Many of these are still viable but so fragile that, in the national park lands where most are located, they are closed to the public. Roberts (Once They Moved Like the Wind) has spent 20 years exploring the region, and he recounts the history of the discoveries, the appalling thefts of artifacts, the cave paintings and his own transcendent experiences in stumbling upon some vestige of this lost civilization. His awe at the region's beauty, with its sheer cliffs, canyons and mesas, and at the testaments to an unknown culture will be contagious for readers.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Highly recommended to anyone interested in the ancient past of the Americas.
Amazon Customer
I just finished reading this book for the third time and I'm continually fascinated with the descriptions by David Roberts.
Johnny Denver
This is an excellent introduction to the Anasazi and Anasazi ruins and artifacts, including petroglyphs and pictographs.
R. M. Peterson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 48 people found the following review helpful By J. Charles Hansen on December 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is the first book I've read specifically about the Anasazi, and I really enjoyed it. Roberts takes us along on his personal search for answers to the mysteries of the Anasazi through his interviews of leading experts, his camping and hiking expeditions throughout the region, conversations with living Native American Hopi and Navajos, and his research of the modern day archeological history which started with an amateur rancher in the 1880's.
I found this a fabulous read. It's told in an entertaining way, as though we're along for the ride with Roberts as he follows his own curiosity into the world of the Anasazi.
I was impressed with how he presented the mysteries surrounding the Anasazi. He raises many questions which baffle current archeologists, and leaves the final conclusions up to the reader.
Roberts also does a good job of bring up different sides of issues such as how much to allow the public into delicate significant sites - what is the proper role of government agencies to balance preservation with access to the public? Also through his informal interviews he exposes the balance between the archeological practice of digging up bones and pots from ancient sites versus leaving them in their natural state as more of a natural museum.
Roberts is a contributing writer for Outside Magazine, has an inherent interest in the Anasazi, and spent years hiking and camping throughout the Four Corners region where the Anasazi lived until about 700 years ago.
I had a good time taking this trip with the author through the past and am now encouraged to learn more about the Ancient Ones who inhabited our West for so long before we arrived.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
David Roberts has done the almost impossible for the reader: actually taking you with him on an adventure into the past. Blending archaeology, scholarship and canyoneering, Roberts makes this anything but dry reading. In fact, I could literally feel the canyons under my feet and smell the air, while investigating nooks and crannies holding fascinating remnants of the various Anasazi cultures. These remaining treasures are fragile and in need of protection. This book explores in depth the philosophies and issues surrounding this often "hot topic". Highly recommended to anyone interested in the ancient past of the Americas. Nancy McDowell, Editor, "Canyon Spirits E-Journal",
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A. Walker on June 26, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not being from the Southwest this book acted like a walking guide to the mysterious disappearance and the researched history of the ancient civilization inhabiting the canyons. It was a good, easy read, with lots of references for more research. I would read more of his work without hesitation. I just wish he'd put in some maps to give an overview of the canyons he was hiking.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Robert C. James on February 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
In Search of the Old Ones is one of the best books I have ever read about the Anasazi in the Southwest. David Roberts does a wonderful job and made me want to go to the deserts of Utah and Arizona and track them down myself. I have read many books about this area and I have backpacked several of the canyons he describes. This book can be used as a guide if you decide to search for the 'Old Ones' yourself. I'm waiting for the sequel.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Brad Allen on July 11, 2010
Format: Paperback
I have been looking for some time for an easy to read book that gave a nice overview of the Anasazi (Ancestral Puebloans) and David Roberts book is close, but not quite there. Roberts is an excellent writer whose style is engaging and easy to read. His second book on the area, The Pueblo Revolt: The Secret Rebellion that Drove the Spaniards Out of the Southwest, is exactly the overview and easy to read text on the second chapter in this ancient story but this first book is not quite that.

"You cannot, of course, set out to find such a pot. It must burst upon you by accident, when you expect nothing but another corner in the sandstone. And yet you must prepare yourself to find it; you must read the driest archaeological monographs and hike through the starkest badlands to reach the ledge where the pot awaits." This is a prime example of the tone Roberts' book takes. It is enjoyable and makes a good read while roaming around in the Four Corners area but it is not the first book overview of the Anasazi. This is a book for readers who already have some familiarity with the subject. Roberts' story line follows his quest to understand the mystery, oral history, and complications of this story. If you understand the basics, the stages of the Anasazi and the general geography of the region, this is a great book. Be prepared to journey with Roberts and experience some of the touchy not-so-PC sides of the story around Southwest History.

I would highly recommend that you have a Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona atlas in front of you while reading this. I was traveling, so I had all of that in my trailer and they were invaluable.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By "coyote_sunrise" on March 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
I picked this book up in preparation for a recent trip to the Four corners region, and found it to be a highly readable account of one man's search for answers as to what did happen to the Anasazi. While Roberts raises more questions than he answers, this is still an entertaining way to learn more about the area and I would recommend it for anyone who has an interest in the cliff dwellings and general aura of the area.
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