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A Classical Archaeologists's Life: The Story so Far shows that a scholar's life is not all scholarship, though much of this book is devoted to the writing of books and, especially, travel to classical and other lands. Boardman is a Londoner, born in Ilford and attending school in Essex (Chigwell). His teenage years were spent often in air raid shelters rather than with 'mates' (all evacuated). There are distinctive 'aunties', the rituals of daily life in a London suburb. The non-scholarly figures live large in this account of his life, marriage, children, new houses. At Cambridge he learned about classical archaeology as a necessary addition to reading Homer and Demosthenes, even being obliged to recite the latter. And those were the days of Bertrand Russell's lectures in a university reawakening after the war. Thence to the British School at Athens to learn about excavation (Smyrna, Knossos, later Libya). His return from Greece was to Oxford, not Cambridge, at first in the Ashmolean Museum, then as Reader and Professor. A spell in New York gives an account of the city before the troubles, when Petula Clark's Down Town was dominant. There is much here to reflect on university life and teaching, and on the reasons for and problems with the writing of his many books (some 40), with reflection on the university, colleges and their ways. Travels are well documented - a notable trip through Pakistan and China, in Persia, Egypt, Turkey - with comment on what he saw and experienced beyond archaeology. A lecture tour in Australia provides comment beyond the academic. He visited Israel often, lecturing and publishing for the Bible Lands Museum. Several tours in the USA took him to most of their museums and universities as well many other sights, from glaciers to alligators.
This book is a mixture of scholarly reminiscence, reflection on family life, travelogue, and critique of classical scholarship (not all archaeological) worldwide, illustrated with pictures of travels, friends, home life, and, for a historian, a reflection on experiences of over 90 years.