The silver lining

If their fictitious exploits of Robert Langdon and Indiana Jones inspire some to pursue a scholarly career, then so much the better.

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There is perhaps no question more abhorrent to a student of history than: "Have you read The DaVinci Code?" Dan Brown's blending of fact and fiction may have made for gripping thrillers, but that subtle blend of truth and poetic licence also has a tendency to mislead. His cavalier assertion of speculation and conspiracy theory as fact was blindly accepted by too many. That said, if it generated interest in the International Conference on Ancient Studies in Dubai, maybe his work may end up doing some good.

The previous generation had Indiana Jones to inspire childhood fantasies about unravelling the mysteries of ancient civilisations. Today's children have Robert Langdon. If their fictitious exploits inspire some to pursue a scholarly career, then so much the better - even if it means lining the pockets of substandard writers with a knack for narrative. Let us hope these children are not too disappointed to find that archeologists don't always get the girl and rarely save the day.