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121 of 151 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2005
This book presents a wildly radical restructuring of the timeline of world history. It is written by an outsider to the world of historical scholarship: Fomenko is a non-historian (a renowned mathematician) and an non-Westerner (from Russia.)

Fomenko's theory says, basically, that everything we are told about history pre-1600 is BS. Ancient history is, according to Fomenko, based on evidence quote-unquote "discovered" since the 15th century and arranged into a spurious standard timeline in the 18th century. (In some cases, the evidence was discovered much more recently: some Eastern religious texts were only uncovered in the 20th century.) Fomenko collates this evidence to argue that all those ancient chronicles are different versions of events which really happened roughly between 1000 AD and 1400 AD. The key event in Fomenko's timeline is the life of Christ (who was born in 1053 AD rather than 6BC, Fomenko believes.) After a relatively short-lived Eurasian empire disintegrated, each nation made up their own version of the empire's history, and generally each new version of the story was set farther back into the past than the previous one. (The newest version is the Hindu Krishna myth which is set about 10,000 years before the present day.)

This is an appealing theory, since it eliminates the various "dark ages" which blemish the conventional chronology. On the other hand, this is an appalling theory, since it creates one big dark age extending from the beginning of time till 900 AD or so.

The book is translated from the Russian. There is no index, and the bibliography is rather annoyingly arranged in the original Russian alphabetical order (so for example, B's and V's are mixed together.) But the translation is extremely readable, more readable than most historical works originally written in English.

This is the first book in a projected 7-volume set.

The online bookstore entries for this volume rather amusingly show easily history gets mixed up. The translator is someone named Michael Jagger who is almost certainly not the singer Mick Jagger (whose full name is Michael Phillip Jagger.) However, some online bookstores do list Mick Jagger as a coauthor. Amazon.com says the translator is someone named Mike Jagupov. This is hard enough to keep straight while the singer is still alive, and a few decades from now, I am sure that many sources will say that the legendary Rolling Stones frontman translated this book into English.

(I have no idea if Mick Jagger speaks Russian or not. Although he is an educated man--- an alumnus of the University of London--- one would assume that he doesn't. Certainly, in all the millions of words which have been written about him, no one has commented on his knowledge of the Russian language. And, if he actually was the person who translated this controversial text into English, the book's publishers would presumably be aggressively advertising that fact.)
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135 of 169 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2005
You learned history when you were a young lad from someone who learned it from someone who..... but who started it all?
What's wrong with asking this question? Some people would burn Mr. Fomenko at the stake for saying the Earth isn't flat.

I bought this book as a novelty but I ended up being quite impressed with it. I wouldn't say I'm totally sold on all the crazy ideas Mr. fomenko puts out but they certainly are more plausable than you might think. He does a thorough job of showing how early "historians" were really working for the pope. Most were monks with limited resources, personal and religious agendas, and a willingness to fudge it whenever they didn't know (or like) the truth. You'll be amazed at how meticulously he presents his evidence that the dark ages were so dark because they never happened. Your head will probably start to ache when you get to the section where he analyzes historical timelines statistically (at least mine did). However, the parallels truly are startling.

The first four chapters alone are worth the price of the book. Even if you don't believe any of it I'm sure you will at least question why we take the foundations of historical knowledge so seriously without solid justification. There's more to this book than you could know without actually reading it!
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60 of 76 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2005
This is a most unusual book, one that undermines the very foundations of History. According to the author and his team of researchers, History as it has been taught in Europe ever since the Renaissance is fundamentally false, verified history beginning around 1250 AD the earliest. Jesus Christ was born in 1053 and crucified in 1086, the First Crusade being an immediate reaction to his Crucifixion. Homer identifies an an anonymous poet of the second half of XIII century AD, and the event led to the creation of the Iliad had been the fall of the Latin Empire of Constantinople in 1261 AD. The list goes on and on.
Historians generally oppose the author's views without making much commentary. The author is not a historian, they say, period. He is only a leading differential geometrician, successful and respected, author of many advanced textbooks. A. Fomenko is also a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences; his main argumentation is of a statistical and astronomical nature. I happen to be a physicist myself and not a historian. However, astronomy and differential geometry are known to me well from the area of general relativity, and I cannot recommend this book enough, since its author approaches History, usually a highly emotional discipline ascribed to the field of humanities, armed with impartial mathematics.
History is collective memory; yet even our own memory errs at times, and no real memory extends beyond three generations. There are written sources, but each one of those might easily prove a forgery. There are material remnants of archaeological nature, but they may be misadated and misinterpreted.
Astronomy is precise by definition, and a historical dating that can be calculated from information about eclipses should satisfy any researcher. Yet the XIX century astronomers did not use the lunar tidal friction value in the equations of lunar motion, which would make ancient lunar eclipses appear several hours off the mark and relocate completely several total eclipses of the sun geographically (assuming tidal friction value has remained the same all the time but there is no reason to believe it hasn't). How could XIX century calculations have conformed to consensual history?
I must say that a methodical recalculation of ancient eclipse datings shall invariably bring surprises; in the unlikely case these datings are correct, we shall prove the existence of erratic changes in telluric rotation over the last 4,000 years instead. Both possibilities are highly alarming.
Fomenko demonstrates the incompatibility between consensual history and modern astronomy. This incompatibility is a sad fact. (He exposes a number of other contentious issues as well, but those do not fall into my professional scope). Which is more reliable - history or hard-boiled scientific facts? Science cannot afford subjectivity; most of us would feel the same way about history as well.
Chronological problems are very serious indeed; Fomenko offers a viable solution to most of them, and a radical one at that - a "Copernican revolution" of history, no less. I am not using the term to predict the final and total victory of his version; that is a matter for a multitude of scientific and scholarly discussions to come. But the contradiction between history and astronomy that becomes graver with the day cannot and must not be tolerated, in the best interests of both history and the theory of telluric rotation.
Dr.PhD B. Lukács
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60 of 76 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2004
When I picked up "History: Fiction or Science?" for the first time, it was out of sheer curiosity. I appreciate crackpots and crackpot conspiracy theories of all sorts - one could say that I have a private freak collection on a separate bookshelf. Therefore, this entire history revision business looked very much like it belonged there as well, so I decided to give it a go. My initial reaction was disappointment; the author sounded perfectly sane, which is simply out of order, if you ask me (a good crackpot theorist is always stark raving mad, hence the interest - never a dull moment anywhere). Then I started to read deeper into the book and, as I submerged about thirty pages deep, the remnants of my ironic grin dropped to the floor along with my jaw. The stuff actually made sense. No hysterical overtones or complex paranoid theorizing anywhere - it is certainly a scientific work written in a manner that has academia stamped all over, no doubt about it.
The critic in me would keep arguing with the authors every now and then - yet they never fail to emphasize the hypothetical nature of their reconstructions. Some of the hypotheses make perfect sense, others do not - which pleases me greatly, since I am most wary of books that make me agree with everything instantly; their integrity is nearly always heavily compromised in some way, yet never too obviously (the best crackpot conspiracy theorists are the ones you can't help agreeing with, and once you agree with enough, you find yourself ready to agree with the bloke who says reptiles rule the world). Here, you may be offered several contradictory renditions of the same historical event. Once again, I wouldn't have it any other way - anyone who is gullible enough to believe simple and unequivocal explanations offered by the official historical sources is usually unaware that those, in turn, contain numerous gaps, inconsistencies, and contradictions.
I always knew that history, especially ancient history, has been a collection of fairy tales all along; still it took me some time to accommodate the thought that, for want of a better metaphor, even the fairy tales it consists of were culled from a wide variety of books, shuffled together like a very dodgy deck of cards, then put into a random sequence, given a new index and proclaimed the only authorised collection of fairy tales in the world (and children who ask silly questions about why certain things make no sense or whether there are any other, more interesting tales available elsewhere need spanking, of course - a time-honoured tradition, isn't it then?). Well, the Russian mathematicians do ask questions. Lots of questions. Questions which there was a very long tradition of not asking; ones that concern the very foundations of modern chronology (although "modern" might be a misleading term here, since said chronology is a child of the Middle Ages). And the historians who demand a spanking shaking fists and frothing at the mouth make me want to put every book on history that I own on the crackpot shelf - certainly not Fomenko and team. Indeed, I haven't put them on any shelf yet, since I'm reading the book for the third time over, and eagerly anticipating the second volume.
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48 of 62 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 2004
Earth was flat. Humans saw that it was flat, books were telling scholars that it was flat, teachers were teaching students it was flat; scientists knew it was flat. There was some disagreement about the way it was kept afloat, most common versions were elephants, whales and turtles, but that was subject for scientific discussion. Until Magellan sailed around the globe and proved all this science wrong.
This book is precisely about same situation. Although it is written for casual reader, it still bears all the traits of scientific research. I was suspicious about credibility of this book, because of the scandalous 10,000.00 bet placed as advertisement here (you can beat math only by math, and guy who posted the ad knows this).
I've studied math using Fomenko's textbooks as supplementary source at Fraser university (there are around 14 textbooks on math, at least known to me, written by Fomenko and translated to English, pretty expensive and rare as all advanced textbooks, but I'm pretty sure it is possible to fish something at your local university, here is the one for the start - ISBN: 0792326067).
I've run some of the statistical examples in SPSS (of course simplified and using data from the book) and results were similar. Math doesn't lie, but there is old saying "garbage in - garbage out", so take my results as is. Anyway, history as a science is based on books written by previous generation of historians, who based their works on works of previous generation of historians, supplemented by archeological digs (great deal of assumptions was made there too, as people didn't usually mark their belongings with dates), so it definitely needs some mathematical treatment.
It is very difficult to digest the new version of history from Fomenko without getting allergic shock. Official timeline is accepted in the same way as gravity, and movement of the sun; many nations have developed their identity based on official history. Literally speaking chronology is in our culture, in our roots, personal identity. Someone said here that this book was written by Russian nationalist to reassure Russian national identity. May be so, but I think for Russians will be very difficult to swallow that they were actually Mongols and Tatars too.

This book will turn your world upside down. Literally.
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42 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2004
Sky&Telescope Magazine confirms results, but does not buy Fomenko's theory
Fomenko uses astronomy data to support his argument that history is too long and that many historical events happened more recently than we thought. The temple walls and sarcophagi of some Egyptian ruins are decorated with depictions of the sun, moon, and planets as observed in the different zodiacal constellations. If a given depiction is accurate - that the celestial bodies were observed and placed correctly in the constellations - a horoscope can be used for dating. Fomenko has deciphered over a dozen Egyptian horoscopes. He claims, that the latter show dates that are 2-3 thousand of years later than conventionally thought. Most well-documented ancient eclipses actually took place in the Middle Ages.
Roger Sinnott, studied astronomy at Harvard and is an editor at the respected Sky & Telescope Magazine checked Fomenko's calculations for the famous trio of eclipses from Thucydides's account of the Pelopponesian War. The three eclipses are conventionally dated to 431, 424, and 413 BC. Fomenko finds these dates as non adequate to narrative of Thucydides's and finds exact solutions as late as in 1133, 1140, and 1151 AD.
The second example is the eclipse of 190 BC described in Livy's history
of Rome. Fomenko redates this event to 967 AD.
Fomenko`s dates accommodate details from ancient descriptions that the conventional dates do not. For example, Thucydides wrote that the first of his three eclipses was solar and that the stars were visible, that means that the eclipse was total. The accepted solution of August 3, 431 BC involves an eclipse that was only partial in Greece. Similarly, the Livy eclipse is supposed to have happened five days before the ides of July, which by our conventional reckoning would date it July 10. Fomenko's 967 AD solution nails that date, while the conventional 190 BC eclipse actually occurred on March 14.
Sinnott confirms that eclipses did take place on the dates Fomenko has chosen and concludes, "Even though Fomenko has found valid eclipse dates that seem to fit the descriptions, I think it is far-fetched in the extreme to conclude that the chronology of the ancient world is 'off' by more than one thousand years." Free country, isn't it?
Check Fomenko's calculations with ANY sky mapping software, professional or amateur, you'll get his results confirmed.
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36 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2006
Fomenko's thesis that all of ancient history was either invented during the Renaissance or at least only based on recent medieval events provided me with an enormous trigger "to see for myself". Having been interested in history for a number of decades, but having got tired of always the same topics in only a new jacket, Fomenko's book opened wide avenues to study new topics to test the author's thesis. To give just some examples: medieval history of the Middle East (Islamic history), the history of the Mongols, Tamerelane, the Ottoman empire; the origins of Christianity and Islam, the development of cartography, language, technology, astronomy.

Everybody who has an interest in history should read this book, if only to start out on his own voyage of discovery and to try to come up with his own solutions!
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43 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 2004
This english translation may well be source of the same sort of paradigm shift that Bjorn Lomborg has instigated in environmental research when he exposed many researchers as scaremongers that put us on the wrong track to improvement.

Although the tone is sometimes pedantic the content surprises with a matter of fact and extremely intelligent and consistent presentation using 1500 (!) sources. All arguments in the amazon.com reviews so far that try to "debunk" this book as nonsense are dealt with in a very thorough and convincing fashion in the book.

The picture that very clearly emerges is that of a house of cards where different disciplines (C-14 dating, dendrochronology, archeology and history) need eachother in order to stay consistent about the timeframe from say 2000BC to 1500AC. I was particularly surprised about the fact that most C-14 datings are rejected and they are often off by 1 or 2 thousand years. The procedure seems to be one of carefully choosing the datings that confirm expectations. This is not only the view of renegades like Christian Bloss and Hans-Ulrich Niemitz but also of articles in New Scientist and Nature and the evidence (wrong datings) speaks for itself.

It seems that nobody really ever questioned the datings that where invented by Scaliger and Petavius (based on interpretations from the bible) after the XV century. All the outrageous claims on the back cover are very well substantiated. For me it was interesting that the "dark ages" finally made sense.

Does this mean that I think Anatoly Fomenko is right on all points? I don't think so. Many of the hypotheses that he presents will without doubt be corrected after thorough research. But I do think that his critisism is so valid and so fundamental that it will change or even obliterate current beliefs about ancient history.

I am very curious how the scientific community of historians will react to this outstandingly researched work now that it's available in English.
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26 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2004
Fomenko is highly entertaining, if not on target
It should also be possible, as Fomenko states, to study regnal year lengths on a statistical basis. Historically, a long reign is generally followed by a succession battle and a number of shorter reigns. In the Old Testament period, kings were consciously reviving the memory of earlier kings, even to the point of trying to match their reign lengths. This was not always possible, but it probably did serve to reinforce natural and recognizable patterns (with statistical significance). He compares Germanic kings with the Biblical kings of Judah. Upon closer examination, the correlation is strained, but it is not surprising that the general pattern is quite similar. The dynamics of kinship did not really change that much over the centuries. I wish I had the time to better evaluate the Fomenko theories. They are highly entertaining, if not on target.
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34 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on July 17, 2004
History: Fiction Or Science? is a quite scholarly expose of the extreme limitations of our understanding of human history. So few physical records have survived hundreds, let alone thousands of years that it casts even the most conventional understanding of what really happened into doubt. Chapters address the problems of historical chronology in general, astronomical datings, astronomy in the Old Testament, methods of dating ancient events via mathematical statistics, the construction of a global chronological map, the Dark Ages, and much more. Black-and-white illustrations add a vivid touch to this scholarly work that may appear controversial yet deals with a very serious issue directly affecting humanity's comprehension of its own past.
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