From Library Journal
Castleden, who has written ten other books on historical topics (e.g., Minoans: Life in Bronze Age Crete, LJ 1/91), examines various events in ancient history and then attempts to prove that Plato used them to form the Atlantis tale for the purpose of creating a model world that Athenians could contemplate and learn from. He argues persuasively, offering much evidence, for instance, of similarities between Minoan civilization and the Atlantis legend. Ellis (Deep Atlantic, LJ 10/1/96) also reviews sources from Plato to the present that have contributed to the story of Atlantis, revealing what mystics, scientists, film writers, and others have added to the legend. His most interesting revelation is that Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a novel featuring an underwater Atlantis. Ellis also discusses archaeological evidence that some have used to "prove" that Atlantis existed. Castleden and Ellis write in styles suitable for adult readers, and their works are comparable to Marjorie Braymer's Atlantis: The Biography of a Legend (1983). Recommended for academic and large public libraries.ANorman Malwitz, Queens Borough P.L., Jamaica, NY
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Castleden (The Making of Stonehenge, not reviewed), working with Plato's Critias, historical and contemporary scholarly works, and his own speculation, seeks to identify the fabled island of Atlantis and set it within a greater political-literary context. As Castleden explains, the story of Atlantis dates from before Plato, back to the priests of Sais in Egypt and then into the mists. But it is a close reading of Plato's rendering on which Castleden bases his conclusions. Yes, Plato uses the island as a parable, as political satire to improve his fellow Athenians and tempt Syracusans with an ideal for the city-state, but there are so many identifiable elements in the storygeographically, geologically, in references to commercethat if these elements are put into historical perspective, if certain misreadings of ancient Minoan texts are accounted for, a stab can be taken at the island's identity. Castleden understands the pillars of Heracles to be situated at the Gulf of Laconia, and not the western end of the Mediterranean, and Atlantis to be an archipelago of Aegean islands, Crete and Thera (a.k.a. Santorini) most prominent among them. Plato, Castleden argues, conflated the two islands for his own allegorical convenience, and thus the confusion. The islands particular geographical features bear out his description. Castleden buttresses his theory with a detailed examination of Cretan and Theran histories and cultures, drawing parallels to Plato. The theory is certainly plausible: His familiarity with the material is intelligently nuanced, and when he takes a leap in the darksuggesting understandable mistranslations by the Egyptians, sayit is never far-fetched. Castleden's pseudoscholarly tonethe book often reads like a script for Robert Stack's Unsolved Mysteriescan be a put-off, but the material is too fascinating for that to be much of an impediment, and the subject has survived far worse treatment. (For another view of Atlantis, see Richard Ellis, Imagining Atlantis, p. 630.) A fine synthesis of Atlantis-related research, with a good number of intelligent, provoking speculations and an insightful consideration of Plato's myth-making talents. (b&w photos, line drawings, not seen) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.