This was exactly the home life faced by a young Indiana Jones growing up in rural Utah. Jones felt an emptiness that went beyond lingering questions about his mother. He longed for something outside the confines of his musty home with its book-lined shelves, and someone other than his father, who, for the lack of attention he paid Jones, may as well have been back at Oxford.
As he gazed across the Colorado Plateau, unexpectedly, he found answers in Washington and in the Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt.
In President Roosevelt Jones found a scholar-cum-elephant hunter, who could really pull off his Rough Rider cowboy hat. Roosevelt could fill gaps in his personal development that his own father never could, and so he began to shape himself in the President’s image. In doing so, he set off on a spiritual journey that would also deeply affect his politics.
Like his idol, it didn’t take Jones long to discover that real adventure was to be found beyond the manicured lawns of his Ivy League school, and beyond the shores of America. As his country began to explore its newfound post-adolescent strength by adopting a more proactive foreign policy, so Jones jumped into the world of 20th century international archaeology with a zealousness for acquiring museum pieces that would have made Teddy Roosevelt proud.
He soon realised that the world was a dangerous place, filled with child slave drivers, slimy Frenchmen, and snakes. Then there were those damn fascists. In World War II, Jones worked for the Office of Strategic Services (the CIA’s predecessor), preventing the Nazis from capturing the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail, actions which were pivotal in changing the course of the war.
Arguably more important to the war effort, Jones voted Democrat for the first time in 1932, bringing to power another Roosevelt with an outward-looking foreign policy.
Jones’s adventures abroad opened his eyes to new experiences and cultures. He formed close friendships with people from ethnically-diverse backgrounds like Sallah and Short Round. When he voted for Truman in 1948, he did so in the hope that the president would deliver on his civil rights platform.
Jones didn’t vote in ’52 but was pleasantly surprised by Eisenhower’s stand during the Little Rock Crisis. Under Eisenhower, Jones was again approached by the CIA, who asked him to spy for them in China, under the guise of an archaeologist studying Shang Dynasty bronzes. This time he declined their offer; Short Round’s family had participated in the Long March and had brought Jones around to the Maoist cause. For the next two decades, he was shunned from holding tenure at any major academic institution in the US.
Driven to the fringes of academia, Jones began associating with underground archaeologists from the radical left, and in 1968, authored a paper on archaeological evidence for Marx’s theories on economic development. It wasn’t until the election of Jimmy Carter that Jones was finally accepted back into mainstream academia.
But it was too late. Like so many victims of McCarthyism, Jones had fallen into a deep funk, comforted only by the occasional hard drinking session with his lifelong friend, Marion Ravenwood.