On Books

Three book related items today.

1. Publishing. I was told by my publisher that I had shared too much of The Bakken: An Archaeology of an Industrial Landscape. That’s a bummer because feedback on the blog here helped to make that book better. Since I’m basically powerless to resist my well-meaning publisher, I could only resort to snark. I removed offending content and posted a message:

BOO! This content has been removed at the request of my publisher.

I also made potentially foolish bet with my publisher that The Bakken Goes Boom! Oil and the Changing Geographies of Western North Dakota will sell more copies than The Bakken: An Archaeology of an Industrial Landscape. That mean everyone should rush to the internets and buy a copy of The Bakken Goes Boom! (or just download it for free). We are currently ranked in the top half-million books on Amazon!

2. Reviews. The first wave of reviews are rolling in for Pyla-Koutsopetria I: Archaeological Survey of an Ancient Coastal Town which I wrote with David Pettegrew and R. Scott Moore. So far, they’ve been decent which is nice. None have argued that our volume has made all previous archaeological research obsolete, but none have suggested that we drop out of the field and open a taco truck.

The most interesting critique so far appeared in a review from Antiquity by Dan Stewart. Here’s the final paragraph:

“But for all its methodological sophistication and self-reflection, and its laudable approach to open data, in the interpretation of the survey material itself the volume presents nothing particularly new or innovative. The consequence of this is a sense of imbalance between the methodological discussion and the interpretation of the material. There are relatively standard discussions of survey zones and period analyses, but no integration of ancient sources, epigraphy or history (broadly writ) as it relates to any historical period covered by the survey. Theories of interpretation (as opposed to theories of archaeological practice) are given short shrift, and while the authors claim to be conversant with theories of connectivity, state formation and regionalism, they themselves make few substantive forays into these areas of interpretation. This may be an unfair criticism—they clearly prioritised making the data available, and further publications on geomorphology and geology, the results of geophysical examination and targeted excavation are planned— but the interpretation is nonetheless a disappointment given the intellectual potential of these specific authors working together. Should it be a cause for concern if the brightest lights in Mediterranean survey focus their attention on collection in the now, rather than the why in the past?”

3. Publicity. Lots of folks have been working hard to spread the word about The Bakken Goes Boom! I have benefited immeasurably from both word of mouth and some more coordinated production. First, thanks to Heidi Czerwiec who name dropped my work (and by extension the book) in her interview with Grazing Grain Press. Grazing Grain will publish the complete version of her poem Sweet/Crude which appeared in the Bakken Goes Boom!

The good folks over at the University of North Dakota’s Office of University Relations produced a short trailer for the book.

I’ll also appear on Prairie Public Radio’s Main Street this afternoon around 3 pm CST. Check it out here.

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