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Mound Builders Paperback – May 1, 1986

4.4 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Philip Wylie (1902-71) is the author of "Gladiator" and the coauthor of "When Worlds Collide," both available in Bison Books editions. Acclaimed science-fiction writer Robert Silverberg is the recipient of many awards, including the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards, and the Grand Master designation from the Science Fiction Writers of America, the highest science-fiction honor available. He is the author of "Lord Valentine's Castle,"

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Ohio University Press; 2 edition (May 1, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0821408399
  • ISBN-13: 978-0821408391
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 0.7 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #420,775 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By C. Brown on September 2, 2003
Format: Paperback
I am fascinated by historical structures and some of the most interesting to me are those made primarily of heaped up soil. Though the building material is basic, the great work involved makes one wonder about the motivation required and the purpose of the builders. In my travels across the midwestern states, I've stopped at many "Indian mounds", most recently at the impressive site of large geometric structures at Newark, Ohio.
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.
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Format: Paperback
The first two thirds of the book is devoted not to the mound builders themselves, but to the odyssey of American archeology discovering their existence.

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.

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Format: Paperback
I grew up in Newark, Ohio, almost "next door" to the great circle mound in what has become Moundbuilders Park. My cousins lived near the Octagon mound, and we played there often even though, due to its status as a private country club golf course, it was located on PRIVATE PROPERTY. Moundbuilders park was the scene of countless family picnics, and a walk around the big mound was always the high point of the day for a little kid. So the mounds were very much a part of my every day life. Yet I knew very little about them, or about the people who created them.
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?
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