Pringle, Heather 1952-
Pringle, Heather 1952-
(Heather Anne Pringle)
Agent—Anne McDermid and Associates Ltd., 92 Willcocks St., Toronto, Ontario M5S 1C8, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]
Writer. Historical researcher with Nomad Media Inc. Has worked as museum researcher and book editor.
Science Journalism Award, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2002.
A Guide to Waterton Lakes National Park, Douglas & McIntyre (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1986.
The Mummy Congress: Science, Obsession, and the Everlasting Dead, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.
The Master Plan: Himmler's Scholars and the Holocaust, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to periodicals, including Science, Stern, Geo, New Scientist, National Geographic Traveler, Islands, Texas Monthly, and Canadian Geographic. Contributing editor, Discover magazine.
The Mummy Congress was adapted as an audiobook.
Heather Pringle has produced several books and numerous articles on archaeology, having come to the subject out of her love for history. When she began writing about archaeology, she saw that "it was science writing, but science as it intersected with history," she told Anil Aggrawal in an interview for the online publication Anil Aggrawal's Internet Journal of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology. In the realm of archaeology, her topics have included the various cultures of North America, mummies and the people who study them, and the attempt by Nazi Germany to use archaeological findings to back up Nazi claims of racial superiority.
In Search of Ancient North America: An Archaeological Journey to Forgotten Cultures deals with excavations at nine sites. Pringle is interested in discoveries that indicate ancient cultures differed from the way the conventional wisdom portrays them. For instance, she takes issue with the idea that before Europeans came to North America, the continent was an idyllic place inhabited by peaceful, environmentalist native tribes. In Pringle's view, "Such simplistic portraits of the past … strip ancient tribal cultures of their basic humanity." In reality, she contends, they were no strangers to power struggles or to reckless use of natural resources. She also seeks to make readers understand the work of archaeologists and see the value of studying prehistoric peoples.
Some reviewers deemed the book accessible and engaging in its explanation of archaeological scholarship. Pringle has produced "a lively and provocative examination of aboriginal history and human nature," according to Mark Bourrie in the Canadian Geographic. Booklist contributor Alice Joyce praised Pringle's depictions of archaeologists and their discoveries as "colorful" and "stirring," and added that the book will have "broad appeal."
Detailed portraits of scientists and their science also figure in The Mummy Congress: Science, Obsession, and the Everlasting Dead. Pringle was inspired to write the book after attending the World Congress on Mummy Studies, which is held every three years. She discusses the mummy experts she met there and in subsequent travels, plus the means and meanings of mummification around the world. Again, several critics thought Pringle had brought vibrant life to studies of the dead. Her "brisk, vivid prose" makes the book "fascinating and lively reading," a Publishers Weekly reviewer observed. Sandy Bauers, writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer, called Pringle "a born storyteller who knows how to imbue even such an arcane subject with drama." Booklist critic Ray Olson, meanwhile, remarked that The Mummy Congress "outclasses any Hollywood horror flick in entertainment as well as information value."
The Master Plan: Himmler's Scholars and the Holocaust explores "the use of pseudoscience in the service of ideology," explained a Kirkus Reviews contributor. Pringle chronicles the activities of the Ahnenerbe, an organization set up by Nazi official Heinrich Himmler to gather supposedly scientific evidence that so-called Aryans were the "master race" and that other groups, such as the Jews, were inferior and deserved extermination. The Ahnenerbe's projects ranged from mere plunder—scouring archaeological sites for remains of Aryan ancestors—to murder of Jewish inmates at Auschwitz so their bones could be studied. The book illuminates some of the lesser-known efforts of the Nazis, too, some critics reported. "Pringle's extensive and wide-ranging new research vastly expands our knowledge of this very odd aspect of Third Reich history," commented Christopher Hale in History Today. The Kirkus Reviews commentator considered the volume to be "a highly readable contribution to the literature of Nazism's intellectual history," while a Publishers Weekly reviewer deemed it "fascinating" and "first-rate."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 1, 1996, Alice Joyce, review of In Search of Ancient North America: An Archaeological Journey to Forgotten Cultures, p. 1487; June 1, 2001, Ray Olson, review of The Mummy Congress: Science, Obsession, and the Everlasting Dead, p. 1806; January 1, 2002, review of The Mummy Congress, p. 760; January 1, 2006, George Cohen, review of The Master Plan: Himmler's Scholars and the Holocaust, p. 35.
Canadian Geographic, July-August, 1996, Mark Bourrie, review of In Search of Ancient North America, p. 72.
History Today, May, 2006, Christopher Hale, review of The Master Plan, p. 66.
Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2006, review of The Master Plan, p. 33.
Kliatt, January, 2002, Edna M. Boardman, review of The Mummy Congress.
Philadelphia Inquirer, June 11, 2001, Sandy Bauers, "The Mummy Returns for Science Writer Heather Pringle."
Publishers Weekly, May 21, 2001, review of The Mummy Congress, p. 92; December 12, 2005, review of The Master Plan, p. 52.
Reference & Research Book News, August, 2006, review of The Master Plan.
Georgia Straight (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), April 20, 2006, Brian Lynch, "Heather Pringle's The Master Plan: Himmler's Scholars and the Holocaust."
Anil Aggrawal's Internet Journal of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology,http://www.geradts.com/anil/ (December 1, 2001), Anil Aggrawal, interview with Heather Pringle.
Brothers Judd,http://www.brothersjudd.com/ (May 23, 2001), review of The Mummy Congress.
Heather Pringle Home Page,http://www.heatherpringle.com (October 16, 2006).