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Mound Builders Paperback – May 1, 1986
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Top Customer Reviews
At the museum there I discovered Silverberg's book and immediately bought it with the hope of learning about the mounds. I am happy to report that this book is not only highly readable, engaging and revealing but also that it covers the topic more thoroughly than I expected. The author takes us through time both ancient and modern giving an account of the speculations and research that in many cases led people on wild flights of fancy but have ultimately given us a good idea of why the mounds were built, who built them and when. I found out about the different traditions, periods and cultures of the Indians involved with the mounds, such as the Adena and Hopewell people. I learned of the different kinds of mounds and what they did or did not contain, of frauds that distracted investigators and greed that led to pillaging. Thomas Jefferson, Joseph Smith and John Wesley Powell are just a few of the people who were captivated by the mounds and you'll find out why. After the cultural depredations of de Soto through the careless physical destruction of the past 150 years, I'm grateful that anything remains to be seen today. Maps present sites that can be visited. When I finished the book I felt great appreciation for Silverberg's work that so fully satisfied my curiosity while providing such a pleasant read. He not only answered my questions but provided many answers to others I had not even considered.
Europeans had known about the mounds since the expeditions of De Soto in the early 1500s and mound building continued in some parts of North America until the early 1700s. However, beginning in the late 18th and continuing through most of the 19th century many Americans came to believe the myth of the mound builders.
These magnificent earthen structures, laden with artifacts of a lost civilization, requiring large, highly organized societies, were the work of a vanished race. The mound builders were Phoenicians or Greeks or the lost tribes of Israel or survivors from Atlantis. It was impossible that they could have been related to the heathen savages that the Europeans were so efficiently exterminating. Many versions of the myths had Native Americans as the villains in the story, destroying the mound builders civilization. It wasn't until the late 1800s that the myth was deflated and archaeologists allowed the mounds themselves to tell their story.
The final third of The Mound Builders tells of the three great mound building cultures in North America; the Adena, Hopewell and Mississippians. The Adena were the first to build mounds, beginning around 1000BC. The Hopewell arrived some 600 years later and the two cultures coexisted for several hundred years. The Mississippian culture was coming into being as the Hopewell disappeared, around 700AD. The culture was in decline long before the arrival of the Europeans.
The mounds of North America have many unsolved mysteries and Mr. Silverberg is careful to present multiple viewpoints regarding current speculations.
Mr.Read more ›
Last week I ran across a battered paperback edition of Silverberg's book at a local used bookstore. He has woven together a great story, dealing not only with the people who created the mounds, but also with the ways in which European civilization has attempted to understand and interpret them. I was especially interested in his account of the inherent tension between the fascination and mythology surrounding the mounds in 19th century America and the genocidal policies which were being simultaneously pursued against the American Indian. Silverberg lets the facts speak for themselves without falling into the
swamp of political correctness.
In describing the efforts of various 19th century American archeologists and anthropologists to explore and explain the mounds, Silverberg also depicts an intellectual style which is as extinct as the Moundbuilders themselves. Dedicated "amateur" scientists, including politicans such as Jefferson and WH Harrison, made meaningful contributions to the effort to explore and understand the mounds and the culture which produced them.
What contemporary political figure has the intellectual spirit or temperment to make a similar contribution?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very well done synopsis of history. Appreciated putting each phase into juxtaposition. Found lengthy description of early explorers a bit to detailedPublished 1 month ago
Very well written but a good amount of the information is now somewhat in doubt as more research has turned up to cast more light on the lives of these older Americans. Read morePublished on August 23, 2013 by jamie
This is an excellent book full of history that I never knew about.
It is well written and has a chronological order from the very first records of Europeans encountering... Read more
This is a concise work, well done, regarding mound building in America. It provided me with the answers I was searching for on this topic. Read morePublished on March 31, 2013 by Hawkeye
This book is good treatment on one the most interesting early cultures found within the United States. Why was this culture so interesting? Read morePublished on May 23, 2010 by Dr. Jones
This is actually a great little book and a handy reference that is much more open-minded than might seem at first glance, despite the suspicions or even objections of some. Read morePublished on June 24, 2009 by G. E. Mantel
Silverberg reviews the history of the mound builders from the beginning, including all of the debates, controversies and bizarre fantasies that arose around the mounds. Read morePublished on July 19, 2008 by OtherWorlds&Wisdom
Note: I made some Mormon reader angry over my negative reviews of books written by Mormons out to prove the Book of Mormon, and that person has been slamming my reviews as soon as... Read morePublished on June 22, 2007 by Wanderer