Land of Marvels by Booker Prize-winning author Barry Unsworth happens to be another book about an archeologist, but this short work of historical fiction digs deep into the worlds of politics, finance, and military might. John Somerville, an English archeologist accompanied by his wife and assistants, is digging in the Mesopotamian desert just before the outbreak of World War I. Though he feels on the verge of a discovery that will salvage his career, his money is running out. This time pressure is embodied by the approach of a German-funded railroad line that will run right through his dig. While the ill-fated Somerville digs to unearth a valuable piece of human history, others are taking an interest in another kind of treasure lying below the surface in this region —immense oil fields.
This novel starts off slowly, but the last half will blow you away.
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Read The New York Times review here.