The first edition of this book was published in 1968, the second in 1982. The inimitable Professor Gordon (1908-2001) calls on all his professional experience, which is second to none, in wartime cryptography, archaeology, and ancient languages to explain the recovery of the literature of the ancient Near East (ANE). His vast range of knowledge is brought to bear, explaining how scholars in the last two centuries have decrypted and translated Egyptian hieroglyphs, Old Persian, Sumero-Babylonian and Akkadian cuneiform, Hittite (Turkey), Ugaritic and Eblaite (Syria), and Cretan Linear A and B. The final chapter is a small anthology of these ancient texts from Egypt (a short story, a love poem, wisdom literature similar to the Hebrew Proverbs, and a letter to the dead), and from Akkadian, Ugaritic, and Hittite (some history, an administrative text, a marriage contract relevant to the time of Abraham, etc).
The professor brings the literary background and cultures of the ancient world from Greece through Canaan and Egypt and east to Persia into coherent but not over-ambitious relation. (It is interesting to speculate what he would have made of Professor Brian Sykes 'Seven Daughters of Eve' mitochondrial DNA thesis in his very recent genetic studies of ancient man in the Europe and the ANE.) He gives some small but significant examples of how related languages and cultures help us in translating the ancient Hebrew of the Old Testament, such as in the book of Ruth (the famous 'w-m' in ch.4,v.5, surely you know the one I mean).
The review of this Book prepared by Michael JR Jose