Pioneer to the Past : The Story of James H. Breasted, Archaeologist, told by his son Charles Breasted
New York : Charles Scribner's Sons, 1948. Inscribed by Charles Breasted. Hardcover. 436 pages. Completely tattered dust jacket. No markings within this book other than the signed inscription by the author on the front endpaper. Binding is firm.
PIONEER TO THE PAST : The Story of James H. Breasted by CHARLES BREASTED
Pioneer to the Past tell^ the intensely human, often poignantly moving story of the brilliant career of James Henry Breasted, the greatest Orientalist and archaeologist America Tlas yet produced.
His career is at once a segment of Americana and a saga of American scholarship. It is the story of a prairie boy who at 21 was a graduate pharmacist clerking in a drug store in Omaha; who was suddenly seized with the conviction that he "must preach the gospel"; who abandoned the ministry in favor of oriental studies, and as a result of his family's unlimited sacrifices and his own invincibility, won his doctorate cum laude in Egyptology at Berlin University, and was appointed to the first chair of Egyptology ever established in America, at the then embryonic University of Chicago.
There followed years of scientific drudgery, of incessant travel, of "spirit-racking, white-collar penury," of continually frustrated hopes, before his name became in the popular mind synonymous for American archaeological exploration and research in the ancient Near East.
Thousands of present-day Americans gained their first knowledge of ancient history from his classic Ancient Times; or in later years brushed up their memories with his maturer Conquest of Civilization,
His last and most thoughtful book, The Dawn of Conscience, tracing the history of man's "Age of Character" and foreseeing its greatest, perhaps fatal danger in man's "passion for power," is also becoming an American classic of its kind.
Contemplating the work of the Oriental In-stitu^pvhich he founded at the University of Chicago in 1919, Doctor Breasted said: "A comprehensive study of the ancient orient reveals to us the historical epochs of European man for the first time set in a background of several hundred thousand years. In this vast synthesis, there is disclosed to us an imposing panorama such as no earlier generation has ever been able to survey. This is the New Past. He who really discerns it has begun to read the glorious Odyssey of human kind, of man pushing out upon the ocean of time to make conquest of worlds surpassing all his dreams —the supreme adventure of the ages."
These words epitomize the spirit of James Henry Breasted, and to that adventure he devoted his entire life, becoming indeed a true Pioneer to the Past.
About the Author
Charles Breasted was born in Chicago, Illinois, of Colonial Dutch and English ancestry. From the age of two he -traveled about Europe and the Near East with his father, James Henry Breasted. He learned German and French before English, received his early education on both sides of the Atlantic, at-tended school for a time in Cairo, Egypt. His high school and college years were spent in America—he graduated from the University of Chicago in 1920, later did graduate work at Harvard and at the University of California.
Mr. Breasted's experience has uniquely fitted him to write Pioneer to the Past. He grew up with his father's scientific dreams, eventually became his executive assistant in their practical realization through the creation of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago—the first laboratory ever established for recovering the story of man's conquest of civilization. He served The Chicago Daily News and The Christian Science Monitor as special correspondent in connection with the discovery of Tutenkhamon's tomb. After his father's death, he was asked to become the first Science Editor of Life Magazine, a post from which he resigned to produce Pioneer to the Past. He has now returned to the Near East in U. S. Government civilian service.
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