The story of two rival geniuses in an all-out race to decode one of the world’s most famous documents—the Rosetta Stone—and their twenty-year-long battle to solve the mystery of ancient Egypt’s hieroglyphs.
... engrossing ... Dolnick here conjures up another intricate intellectual caper. With its thrilling dissection of the decoding process, it calls to mind Margalit Fox’s The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code (2013), about three scholars who deciphered Linear B, the 3,400-year-old script excavated from the ruins of Crete’s Minoan civilization. Like Fox, Dolnick exuberantly captures the frustrations and triumphs of scholars as they puzzle out the meaning of long-dead runes, 'seduced by tantalizing clues and then careening into dead ends and losing hope, but then spotting new markers and dashing off jubilantly once more' ... Dolnick’s stirring account makes it clear that both decoders deserve scholarly immortality.
Dolnick tells the fascinating story of one of the world’s most famous objects and the 20-year odyssey to unravel its mysteries ... Dolnick, a former science writer for The Boston Globe, is the author of numerous books on scientific subjects written for a general audience. His clear and engaging style makes accessible the complex science and art of decoding. He does a masterful job of guiding the reader through the labyrinth of false starts, wrong turns, and dead ends that prefaced a fuller understanding of the symbols ... Along the way, the reader is treated to brief, illuminating excursions into related subjects ... an engrossing account of one of the greatest breakthroughs in archaeological history, one that brought a dead language, and a buried culture, back to life.
Dolnick has a remarkable ability to explain and contextualize complex topics and create compelling, lucid nonfiction narratives ... In a conversational, accessible tone, Dolnick draws readers into the mystery. He introduces linguist rivals Thomas Young and Jean-Francois Champollion and takes immense care to illustrate the daunting nature of their quest. The result is a book that’s much more than a simple biography or dull history. Readers are immersed in the urgency of these scholars’ task and the weight of why it mattered ... Reading The Writing of the Gods is like tagging along for a dazzling intellectual journey of discovery, akin to listening to a fascinating lecture. Dolnick brings this period of history to life in the same way the Rosetta Stone revived ancient Egypt.