What We Are Reading Today: The Great Secret

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Updated 12 September 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The Great Secret

Author: Jennet Conant

Historian Jennet Conant reveals the surprising links between chemotherapy and chemical weapons in this well-researched and engrossing account.
The Great Secret is the gripping story of a chemical weapons catastrophe, its cover-up, and how one army doctor’s discovery led to the development of chemotherapy.
Modern cancer therapies are often the result of years of targeted research and development, making it easy to forget that many of the field’s early breakthroughs had as much to do with chance as they did with preparation.
In The Great Secret, Conant recounts one such breakthrough, which was made in the wake of a deadly disaster.
Drawing largely from archival research, Conant relies on a loose conversational style to convey a fast-paced medical detective story.
The book provides “detailed information how chemical warfare led to chemotherapy treatments,” said a review in goodreads.com.
The book “works on so many levels. It is fascinating from page one to the very last page.” It remains very readable and provides important background details, enough to take you on a real journey. It brings the subject matter to life.”


What We Are Reading Today: The Riddle of the Rosetta

Updated 18 September 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The Riddle of the Rosetta

Authors: Jed Z. Buchwald and Diane Greco Josefowicz

 

In 1799, a French Army officer was rebuilding the defenses of a fort on the banks of the Nile when he discovered an ancient stele fragment bearing a decree inscribed in three different scripts. So begins one of the most familiar tales in Egyptology — that of the Rosetta Stone and the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs. 

This book draws on fresh archival evidence to provide a major new account of how the English polymath Thomas Young and the French philologist Jean-François Champollion vied to be the first to solve the riddle of the Rosetta.

Jed Buchwald and Diane Greco Josefowicz bring to life a bygone age of intellectual adventure. Much more than a decoding exercise centered on a single artifact, the race to decipher the Rosetta Stone reflected broader disputes about language, historical evidence, biblical truth, and the value of classical learning. Buchwald and Josefowicz paint compelling portraits of Young and Champollion, two gifted intellects with altogether different motivations. Young disdained Egyptian culture and saw Egyptian writing as a means to greater knowledge about Greco-Roman antiquity. Champollion, swept up in the political chaos of Restoration France and fiercely opposed to the scholars aligned with throne and altar, admired ancient Egypt and was prepared to upend conventional wisdom to solve the mystery of the hieroglyphs.

Taking readers from the hushed lecture rooms of the Institut de France to the windswept monuments of the Valley of the Kings, The Riddle of the Rosetta reveals the untold story behind one of the nineteenth century’s most thrilling discoveries.