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Bible Mysteries

What is the true story behind Noah’s ark? Was Jericho destroyed by Joshua and his trumpets or did the city’s walls fall down centuries after an earthquake? Where was the Garden of Eden located?

GW Associate Professor of Classics Eric H. Cline answers these age-old questions and many more in his book, From Eden to Exile: Unraveling Mysteries of the Bible (National Geographic Books, June 2007). An archaeologist and historian, Cline captivates readers as he explores seven of the Bible’s most mystifying stories, shedding new light on questions that have intrigued scholars for centuries.

Drawing on ancient texts, archaeological finds, and the Bible itself, he investigates each biblical event in the context of science, history, and literature, scrutinizing evidence to arrive at some fascinating common-sense conclusions. “I treat the Bible as I would any other ancient literary source: a text to be tested, prodded, compared, analyzed, and essentially wrung dry of all that it will yield,” writes Cline, who delves into the stories of Moses and the Exodus, the Ark of the Covenant, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the fate of the 10 lost tribes of Israel.

Cline’s extensive experience in the field—spanning more than two decades—includes serving as associate director of the ongoing excavations at Israel’s Megiddo, the reputed location of biblical Armageddon, and as a consultant to the popular National Geographic TV series “Science of the Bible.”

He says that one of his primary motivations in writing From Eden to Exile was to set the record straight. “So many books on the Bible read by the general public are written by amateur enthusiasts, not scholars, and are full on inaccuracies,” he explains. “I think, as archaeologists and ancient historians, we have a professional responsibility to bring the proper facts to a wider audience.”

Wolfowitz’s World

It took two years for Professor Emeritus Lewis D. Solomon to research the life and career of Paul Wolfowitz. But with impeccable timing, the unauthorized biography went to bookshelves almost a month after a romantic scandal severely tainted the career of the embattled former World Bank president.

In Paul D. Wolfowitz: Visionary Intellectual, Policymaker, and Strategist (Praeger Security International, 2007), Solomon takes an in-depth look at Wolfowitz’s personal and intellectual roots that led him to some of the most powerful positions in post-Cold War policy.

As deputy secretary of defense for four years, a longtime State Department hand, and a former International Studies dean at Johns Hopkins, Wolfowitz stood out for his neo-conservative, uncompromising, and controversial decisions, Solomon writes.

But few have drawn ire like the war in Iraq. A majority of the book focuses on Wolfowitz’s role as one of the architects of the Bush Doctrine and his idealistic views of setting up a democratic society in a region full of turmoil.

Solomon says the biography “seeks to go beyond the overabundance of negative media stories” about Wolfowitz, hinting that he has been unjustly criticized.

“When war does not go well, those who did not like the initial invasion…come out of the woodwork and exact their revenge,” Solomon says. “Wolfowitz sat as their sacrificial pawn.”

Current events crept into the publication’s timing, and Solomon added a postscript on the World Bank situation, when then-president Wolfowitz came under fire for the special professional arrangements he made for his romantic interest and fellow World Bank employee. Solomon has continued his thoughts on the topic on the Praeger publishing Web site, writing that outside factors, such as the war and foes of the anti-corruption drive at the World Bank, influenced his ouster.

An ordained minister and a professor at the Law School since 1977, Solomon is the author of more than 50 books.

Postwar Asia

For Americans, World War II ended with Japan’s surrender on Aug. 14, 1945. But for most of Asia, peace was still years away. GW Professor of History and International Affairs Ronald H. Spector explores the battles, conflicts, and violence that absorbed postwar Asia in the book In the Ruins of Empire: The Japanese Surrender and the Battle for Postwar Asia (Random House, 2007).

A sequel to Eagle Against the Sun, Spector’s 1985 book detailing the American struggle against the Japanese during World War II, In the Ruins of Empire chronicles military occupations, civil wars, and the rise and fall of political movements in Asia following the war. It also examines the powerful influence of communism, the resurgence of longstanding ethnic feuds, and the rise of nationalist political movements.

Spector began exploring the topics further as a guest professor in 2000 at Tokyo’s Keio University, where he says he discovered Japanese had stayed in China, Indochina, Indonesia, and other parts of Southeast Asia after the end of the war.

“Some of the individual experiences of these countries had been looked at by their own citizens, but I don’t think anyone had really examined this period as an era of spectacularly unsuccessful occupations,” Spector says.

Spector traveled across Asia and the South Pacific to complete his research. He read soldier accounts at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, Australia; visited a former prisoner of war camp in Shenyang, China; looked at the records of the Japanese Foreign Ministry in Tokyo; and listened to a collection of postwar oral histories from the National Archive of Singapore in Syonan, Singapore.

Spector also wrote to U.S. Marines who served in China in 1945-46 and examined records of POW rescue missions in the Japanese empire—which included Manchuria and other parts of China and Korea—from the Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor to the Central Intelligence Agency.

Spector says the effects of Asia’s postwar upheaval are still evident. “For many people, these are the defining events for the history of their country or their community,” he says. “It’s a very important, dramatic period.”

—Jaime Ciavarra, Jamie L. Freedman, and Julia Parmley