The Hero Schliemann: The Dreamer who Dug for Troy

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Candlewick Press, 2006 - Juvenile Nonfiction - 72 pages
Archaeologist? Mythmaker? Crook? This engaging, illustrated biography of Heinrich Schliemann -- a nineteenth-century romantic who most believe did find the ancient city of Troy -- reveals him to be a fascinating mixture of all three.

From the time Heinrich Schliemann was a boy -- or so he said -- he knew he was destined to dig for lost cities and find buried treasure. And if Schliemann had his way, history books would honor him to this day as one of the greatest archaeologists who ever lived. But a little digging into the life of Schliemann himself reveals that this nineteenth-century self-made man had a funny habit of taking liberties with the truth. Like the famous character of his hero, the poet Homer, Schliemann was a crafty fellow and an inventor of stories, a traveler who had been shipwrecked and stranded and somehow survived. And Heinrich Schliemann was determined to become a legend like Homer -- but in his own time.

Following this larger-than-life character from his poor childhood in Germany to his achievement of wealth as a merchant in Russia, from his first haphazard dig for the city of Ilium to his final years living in a pseudo "Palace of Troy," this engrossing tale paints a portrait of contradictions -- a man at once stingy and lavishly generous, a scholar both shrewd and reckless, a speaker of twenty-two languages and a health fanatic addicted to cold sea baths. Laura Amy Schlitz weaves historical facts among Schliemann's fanciful recollections, while Robert Byrd's illustrations evoke his life and times in wonderful detail. Along the way, THE HERO SCHLIEMANN gives young readers food for discussion about how history sometimes comes to be written -- and how it sometimes needs to be changed.
Back matter includes source notes and a bibliography.

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User Review  - karinaw - LibraryThing

Personal Response: This is a very unique but fitting style of biography for a book about Heinrich Schliemann. Schlitz challenges many of the claims Schliemann made about his own life. She shows that ... Read full review

THE HERO SCHLIEMANN: The Dreamer Who Dug for Troy

User Review  - Kirkus

The charismatic millionaire who uncovered the fabled city of Troy receives here an admiring and affectionate, if not completely heroic treatment. As depicted in this offering, Schliemann was an almost ... Read full review

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About the author (2006)

When Heinrich began digging at Hissarlik, he had very little idea what he was doing. He knew that he wanted to dig into the mound and find a city of the Bronze Age, but he didn't know what a Bronze Age city would look like. His guide was Homer -- he was looking for artifacts and architecture that matched the descriptions in Homer's poetry. This was not a scientific approach.

The thrust of his plan was to dig -- deep. At the top of the mound, he expected to find a Roman city, then a Greek city underneath, then a Greek city from the time of Homer, and, just below that, the walled city of The Iliad. Instead of carefully sifting through the mound, layer by layer, he decided to dig out vast trenches -- rather as if he were removing slices from a cake. Since Homer's Troy was ancient, Heinrich expected to find it near the bottom.

And so he dug, violently and impatiently. Frank Calvert advised him to proceed with care, to sift through what he was throwing away, but Heinrich was not a cautious man. He whacked away at the mound as if it were a piņata.

Modern archaeologists do not dig like this. They remove the earth gently and keep detailed records of what they find. If they find an artifact that isn't what they're hoping to find, they don't discard the artifact: they change their ideas. Instead of looking for something, they look carefully at whatever comes to light. Heinrich, of course, was looking for Homer's Troy. "Troy . . . was sacked twice," modern archaeologists remark, "once by the Greeks and once by Heinrich Schliemann."


THE HERO SCHLIEMANN: THE DREAMER WHO DUG FOR TROY by Laura Amy Schlitz, illustrated by Robert Byrd. Text copyright (c) 2006 by Laura Amy Schlitz. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.

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