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Finding Atlantis: A True Story of Genius, Madness, and an Extraordinary Quest for a Lost World Hardcover – June 7, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony (June 7, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400047528
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400047529
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,495,190 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Few lives are as sadly instructive as that of the dreamer who, by reaching for the stars, falls crashing to earth. Such is the tale of a 17th-century Swedish polymath and gifted eccentric, Olof Rudbeck. Univeristy of Kentucky historian King relates how Rudbeck, trained in his youth as physician (he discovered the lymphatic glands), mastered fields as diverse as architecture, botany, shipbuilding, etymology, musical composition and mythology, among others. It was an ancient Norse saga that set him on the path to what he believed would lead to his greatest triumph. Enchanted by circumstantial evidence and supported by his own breathtakingly inventive archeological and etymological research, Rudbeck in 1679 astonished his Uppsala University colleagues with the announcement that he had discovered Atlantis—in Old Uppsala. Fiercely disputatious and uncompromising when it came to his own genius, Rudbeck had previously poisonously offended many influential colleagues; his work was ridiculed and he died in obscurity. King is marvelous at elaborating Rudbeck's theories and his heroic defense against charges of forgery and "foul-ugly fraud." One wishes, however, that King had dealt definitely with the forgery charges. His trust in his own subject despite the evidence is honorable but perhaps misplaced. Still, King tells his tale with the pace and appeal of a classic whodunit. 20 b&w illus. Agent, Suzanne Gluck.(June 14)

From Booklist

Center stage in this history of a history book is the rollicking, fantastical figure of Olof Rudbeck (1630-1702). After reading Rudbeck's monumental Atlantica (1679), historian King unpacks its plausible but reckless chains of reasoning and reassembles the mass into a marvelous account of the Swedish scholar's obsessions. Rudbeck was a professor of medicine at Uppsala University, and his restless mind seems to have seldom been idle. Rudbeck switched from physiology, in which he made his name as discoverer of the lymphatic system, to the study of the Viking sagas, just then coming to scholarly light. Connecting the sagas with the gods of Norse and Greek mythology, and with Plato's lost continent of Atlantis, Rudbeck proposed an astounding theory: Atlantis was located in Sweden! Odd though the idea was, King explains that Rudbeck's protomodern research methods in archaeology and etymology gained acceptance for his theory. Restoring this colorful eccentric to life, King reveals his talent for narrative flow and portraiture in a biography that will thoroughly inveigle history readers. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Ricky Hunter on July 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Olof Rudbeck was some kind of seventeenth century wonderful, according to author David King in Finding Atlantis, A True Story of Genius, Madness, and an Extraordinary Quest for a Lost World. Rudbeck comes across more self-delusional than either the mad or genius of the subtitle but either way it is an interesting story. He found Atlantis in ancient Sweden, which also became the birthplace for all language, mythology, and culture known throughout classical Europe (and later stretched to the Indus River itself by Rudbeck). There was nothing this man could not interpret to meet his needs for fitting into a particular hypothesis. At times, the reader may even feel a little embarassed for Rudbeck and a little shocked that less scholars were not laughing at him. The author gives a good glimpse into post Renaissance, pre-Enlightenment Sweden, a country not much discussed in most histories. Sweden was at the height of its power and maybe from so high up it was easy to imagine that everything glorious that was once existed there first. An interesting footnote in history.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on September 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In 1679 one Olof Rudbeck succeeded in tracing a range of disparate legends to an ancient lost civilization which once thrived north of his native Sweden: he'd spend the last thirty years of his life seeking evidence of his theory. Finding Atlantis: A True Story Of Genius, Madness, And An Extraordinary Quest For A Lost World charts his extraordinary ability to chase down the most diverse clues in his search for the truth. Chapters probe the adventures he had tracing lends of the lost Atlantis, the publication of his 2,500-page history, and his research in uncertain times. Reading at times with the drama of a novel, Finding Atlantis is charged with action and even intrigue - as well as historical accuracy, and remains the only biography of Olof to probe his theories in detail.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bradley Beightol on March 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I just finished this book and found it very worthwhile. I have always been interested in the legend of Atlantis and oddly enough, had never heard of Olof Rudbeck. Therefore this book was quite intriguing (and has neat information about the history of Sweden and mythology as well). A few of the chapters in this book could be a bit boring, hence the not-perfect rating, but the rest of the book is quite fascinating. I highly recommend it!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David Cady VINE VOICE on July 5, 2008
Format: Kindle Edition
Kudos to David King for bringing us the fascinating, bizarre tale of Olof Rudbeck, who took Swedish patriotism to dizzying extremes. I must say, Rudbeck's theories, his reasoning and conclusions are strangely convincing, and King does a terrific job of laying them out for us. I couldn't help but think, however, that what would have been a few interesting chapters of a broader study on the many off-the-wall theories on Atlantis had been padded unnecessarily into a full-length book. It's a short book, certainly, but not one without its dry patches. The lengthy digressions into Swedish politics (as well as those at Rudbeck's university) can get a trifle boring. But when King sticks to Rudbeck's obsession with proving that Sweden was, among other things, what the ancient Greeks referred to as Atlantis and Hades (!), this is a mesmerizing study of a quirky, delightfully eccentric individual.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Philip Leetch on October 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am sure Mr King could write a fine scholarly work on Olof Rudbeck, but he or his publisher decided to aim for a wider market and the book strives to be 'popular'. Maybe this is a good idea, but it will annoy some readers. I confess I was disappointed. Talk of 'Apollo's dad' seems inappropriate to me, and I did not want events such as Columbus' discovery of the Americas explained so carefully. There is interesting material here, but you have to decide whether the packaging suits you before you read this book.
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