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Underworld: The Mysterious Origins of Civilization Paperback – October 28, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Already a huge success in England, this lengthy and at times quite academic study extends the basic argument of Hancock's 1994 Fingerprints of the Gods, a wild combination of astronomy, archeology, geology and folk myth whose worldwide success made Hancock perhaps the most popular proponent of "alternative history" as well as a publishing phenomenon. Hancock's basic thesis is simple: although mainstream scholars refuse to believe it, there once was "a lost civilization destroyed in the cataclysmic global floods that brought the last Ice Age to an end," and the survivors passed on their knowledge to the newer ancient civilizations with which we are more familiar. The search for an "Indian Atlantis" is the basis for this book, which is structured around Hancock's exploration of underwater sites near India, Japan, Taiwan and China, and in the Arabian and Mediterranean Seas. As usual, Hancock wonderfully introduces the general reader to Indian and Japanese subcultures; however, his reliance primarily on works by local alternative historians many of whose views have been clearly refuted by other scientists while ignoring almost anything that refutes his own thesis undercuts his credibility. In his effort to present his step-by-step discoveries in the style of a "whodunit," Hancock remains an entertaining writer and an interesting cultural journalist. But while the exploration of undersea prehistoric sites is a fascinating and ongoing research area, and Hancock's main contribution to the subject his theories continues to make him a successful writer, his works have been relegated to marginalia.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Hancock has reportedly sold several million copies of his books touting earlier origins to civilization than is the general consensus. He believes that civilization rose about 17,000 years ago (rather than about 6,000) and vanished beneath a rising sea level, leaving its traces in flood myths in Sumerian and Vedic texts, in early maps of the Age of Discovery, and more plausibly, in submerged ruins. Hancock throws up a fantastic amount of data on these points in this work, ranging from his personal textual interpretations to his dives at coastal sites in Malta, India, Japan, and the Bahamas. Perhaps Hancock's what-if, adventuring style will again prove commercially successful, if not intellectually persuasive to archaeologists, but the poor organization of this work may daunt the otherwise enthusiastic. Discursive and speculative, it expands the meaning of open-minded and could have been pruned without harm (Hancock prints scads of his correspondence and interviews verbatim). However, rebels always attract attention--and Hancock has already proven that he can. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
I also agree with many other reviewers that Hancock needs a better editor, someone willing to condense and simplify and keep him from repeating his line of inquiry from various different angles (which in a perverse way works by showing the way he approached the subject and had insight unfold). He has potential to be a great writer given an even greater editor! Part of the problem is he is brilliant and in his long winded way weaves a fascinating, even spell binding story. I think all his books would benefit from re-edited future editions which condense the good and revise/remove his more questionable theories.... (this appears to be what was done with the 2nd edition of SUPERNATURAL, where something like 8 chapters of academic detail was condensed into one. I found that book a delight and a breeze to read.)
As you read this work you will be accompanying him on his trips, not just reading dry facts as to how he derived his opinions and theories. As previously noted in the reviews of his other works, he is an excellent and interesting writer. He writes in great depth so you can understand the; who, what, when, where, how and why of his research and opinions. This book is typical to his writing in that regard. Good comparisons of the various opinions of how our cultures have mysteriously come from "nowhere" to a heavily advanced state "overnight". It is definitely another pass around book! Well worth your time.