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Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization (Vol 1) Paperback – November 22, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Classical civilisation, Martin Bernal argues, has deep roots in Afro-Asiatic cultures. But these Afro-Asiatic influences have been systematically ignored, denied, or suppressed since the eighteenth century - chiefly for racist reasons. The popular view is that Greek civilisation was the result of the conquest of a sophisticated but weak native population by vigorous Indo-European speakers--or Aryans--from the North. But the Classical Greeks, Bernal argues, knew nothing of this "Aryan model." They did not see their political institutions, science, philosophy, or religion as original, but rather as derived from the East in general, and Egypt in particular. Black Athena is a three-volume work. Volume 1 concentrates on the crucial period between 1785 and 1850, which saw the Romantic and racist reaction to the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, and the consolidation of Northern expansion into other continents. In an unprecedented tour de force, Bernal makes meaningful links between a wide range of areas and disciplines--drama poetry, myth, theological controversy, esoteric religion, philosophy, biography, language, historical narrative, and the emergence of "modern scholarship."

About the Author

Martin Bernal is Professor Emeritus of Government Studies at Cornell University, specialising in ancient African civilisations and origins of Western civilisations. He was educated at Darrington and King's College, Cambridge, where he was a research fellow and tutor. He has published widely on modern Chinese history.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage/Ebury (a Division of Random (November 22, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099887800
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099887805
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,854,876 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By E Alexander on July 26, 2014
Format: Paperback
Good book for the open minded
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Steven on August 10, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Thoth on October 13, 2014
Format: Paperback
Why should one accept Bernal's arguments on the ancient Southeast Mediterranean when, in fact, he was trained in Chinese history and language and not Greek and Egyptian language?

It's illogical and stubborn to insist that his major claims are valid when scholars trained in the relevant disciplines have so thoroughly refuted them, including the late Black Classicist Frank Snowden.

And it's illogical to put any trust in a scholar who is so bent on winning his arguments that he's willing to lie. Witness, for example, his letter exchange with Emily Vermeule in the NY Review of Books (May 1992). Bernal accuses Vermeule saying that he argues for an Egyptian conquest of Boetia in the third millennium. He cites this as accusation, which he denies, as one of Vermeule's numerous misrepresentations of his arguments. In response, Vermeule provides over two dozen quotations from Bernal's Black Athena 1 in which he actually does argue the very thing he denies. These are his own words being quoted by Vermeule. Truly, Bernal comes off as someone who will do anything, even lie, to win an argument. And when you consider he is not qualified by training to be making the arguments he does, one can only support his conclusions because one wishes them to be true, not because they are true. The Exchange of letters can be found at http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1992/may/14/an-exchange-on-black-athena/. No rationale or objective reader can walk away from Black Athena Revisited and Not Out of Africa and not recognize that Bernal's major claims are exaggerations at best and spiteful falsifications at worst. Of course, Bernal was clever enough to know that conspiracy theories are attractive, and, when coupled with an appeal to aggrieved populations, irresistible. The book has sold, despite the solid scholarship that has exposed it as the fraud it is.
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