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Lost Histories: Exploring the World's Most Famous Mysteries Paperback – 15 Jul 2006


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vision Paperbacks / Satin Publications (15 July 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1904132936
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904132936
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 1.8 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 952,234 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Synopsis

"The Ark of the Covenant" and the "Holy Grail" are the most famous lost artefacts in history, but everything from armies and cities, to plays and poems, have been swallowed up by the sands and seas of history, leaving behind only legends to tantalise and inspire archaeologists and treaure hunters alike. Is there any evidence of El Dorado and Sodom and Gommorah? Have we really lost plays by Shakespeare and dialogue from Aristotle? Will divers ever find the Golden Hide or Columbus' fleet? And where are the resting places of a host of bodies, from Ghengis Khan to George Mallory?

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By William Holmes on 13 Oct 2007
Format: Paperback
Joel Levy's "Lost Histories" is an interesting survey of a whole range of ancient and historical mysteries. The mysteries involve people or treasures or cities that went missing, but Levy is pretty skeptical in his approach. If you buy the book expecting that the mysteries will be solved by appeals to supernatural or extraterrestrial forces, you'll be disappointed. On the other hand, if you are looking for a book that nicely recaps the mysteries and summarizes modern thinking about them (as I was), you'll really enjoy "Lost Histories".

Levy covers many topics in fairly short chapters--some of the stories will be familiar to those who enjoy tales of historical mysteries, but others (like the lost army of Cambyses, the lost Persian Fleet, the fate of King John's crown jewels and the tragic loss of the White Ship) seem fresh, at least to me. The book is divided into several sections, each of which includes several chapters.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Paddington on 4 Feb 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Factual and plodding, and not as inspiring, delicious and intriguing as its subject matter deserved. Still, admirably comprehensive and recommended if you are after facts rather than inspiration. The author covers lost histories, but one does not really feel he recovers them. Opportunity missed by a wide margin, I think, but useful enough not to return.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
The Vanishings 13 Oct 2007
By William Holmes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Joel Levy's "Lost Histories" is an interesting survey of a whole range of ancient and historical mysteries. The mysteries involve people or treasures or cities that went missing, but Levy is pretty skeptical in his approach. If you buy the book expecting that the mysteries will be solved by appeals to supernatural or extraterrestrial forces, you'll be disappointed. On the other hand, if you are looking for a book that nicely recaps the mysteries and summarizes modern thinking about them (as I was), you'll really enjoy "Lost Histories".

Levy covers many topics in fairly short chapters--some of the stories will be familiar to those who enjoy tales of historical mysteries, but others (like the lost army of Cambyses, the lost Persian Fleet, the fate of King John's crown jewels and the tragic loss of the White Ship) seem fresh, at least to me. The book is divided into several sections, each of which includes several chapters. The section on "Lost Places" discusses Atlantis, The Temple of Solomon, The Library at Alexandria, Camelot and El Dorado; the section on "Lost Artefacts, Works and Relics" covers the Ark of the Covenant, the lost dialogues of Artistole, the Holy Grail (whatever it was), and Shakepeare's "lost" plays; "Lost Treasures" deals with the Dead Sea scrolls, King John's jewels, treasures of the Knights Templar, Monztezuma's treasure, the buried pirate treasure of Captain Kidd, and the Oak Island Money Pit; "Lost People" explores the lost Persian army of Cambyses (swallowed up by the Egyptian desert), the location of Boudicca's grave, The Lost Colony of Roanoke, and, of course, the disappearance of Amelia Earhart; finally, the section on "Lost Wrecks" seeks the location of the Persian invasion fleets lost during the wars with Greece, the White Ship, Spanish treasure galleons and Lord Franklin's ill fated expedition to find the Northwest Passage.

I found Levy's book to be quite readable, although the number of topics covered means that he doesn't get into any of them in great detail. Each chapter comes with a list of references, which will help the reader who wants to dive more deeply into the topics that Levy surveys.

All in all, this is a fun, entertaining little book, and one of the better expositions of historical mysteries that I've encountered. Based on my experience with this volume, I ordered up Levy's "Secret History" and "The Doomsday Book" and look forward to some more enjoyable reading. (For other good books in this genre, see my book lists for "History's Mysteries" and "Ancient Mysteries".)
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
GETS THE JOB DONE FOR ME...INTERESTING READ. 18 July 2009
By D. Blankenship - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This particular work is one that I call a "wrestling book." The reason I dubbed it that is due to the fact it is one of the many I pack in my pouch (man purse) when I go to my grandson's high school wrestling meets. These meets sometimes last for 12 hours or more. That means setting for a very, very long time in a packed and stuffy gym, waiting for his matches which some times last seconds. In the hours between his matches I always have a book with me to read. This little book fits my needs perfectly and I have checked it from the library on numerous occasions. Yes, I am too cheap to buy it, but more about that later.

Joel Levy has given us a very informative look at some of the lost histories of the world. By lost histories I mean things like places, artifacts, relics, treasures, people, graves and wrecks. As an example Atlantis, El Dorado, The Ark of the Covenant, The Holy Grail, King John's Jewels, Boudicca's grave, the Lost Roanoke Colony, the tomb of Genghis Khan and many, many other things, people and places.

Now all of these places, etc. do not have to be real. Some of course come from pure legend and oral tradition. Some of course are real and we simply have lost track of them down through the ages. Now do not get the impression that this is a pot boiler of a book ripped from the pages of the Enquirer or anything like that. No, Levy has approached his subject is a very scholarly manner. On each of his short investigations he has given us what is known (or unknown) as fact, the legends that have grown around it, what science tells us, and what is pure speculation. He even delves into the complete absurd as when he gives us a brief history of involvement in the search for Atlantis and gives us a glimpse at the writings of such people as Madame Blavatsky and Edgar Cayce. These looks at the ravings and writings of wack-job fringe people are sort of fun. But this brings us to the true problem with this book. The author has tried his best to present us with; as I said, a scholarly examination of his subjects, but at the same time you can read between the lines and tell that the poor man is having trouble keeping a straight face in some cases. Couple this with the fact that he is presenting this work as popular history; well, you can see where his task was difficult, to say the least. The author has done a very nice job of debunking when necessary. I liked that.

The author is not a spritely writer and in fact some of his stuff here is as dry as dust and boring as several of the dreadful professors I had in years gone by. But for me, that is okay. The work is filled with many interesting little facts and the subject matter alone is interesting and lets face it, unless your grandson is on the matt, anything would be better than listening to a couple thousand screaming people for half a day. I must confess though that I, in good faith, am going to probably have to replace this book at the library as I am the only human to have checked it out, and I fear I have dripped mustard and relish from my hotdogs all over the thing over the past two seasons.

All in all though, this is an interesting read and well worth the time spent. Each section is only a few pages so it does not hurt when your concentration is broken by unruly kids endlessly crawling over you to make endless purchases at the concession stand.

I would normally give this one four stars due to the rather dull writing style, but the book does the job I am going to have to pay for so I will give it a five. The author deserves it.

Don Blankenship
The Ozarks
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Informative and Balanced but Bland 4 Nov 2007
By Timothy Haugh - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an interesting little book that tries to investigate historical mysteries. It is divided into five sections: lost places; lost artifacts, works and relics; lost treasure; lost people; and lost wrecks. A number of mysteries you'd expect to find are here: Atlantis, the Ark of the Covenant, Amelia Earhart, etc., as well as a few less well known but no less interesting mysteries.

The main strength of the book is the balanced approach Levy takes. He considers a large number of angles on each mystery and tries to separate fact from fiction, leaving the reader with a final assessment that seems quite reasonable. The brevity of the articles, however, often leaves the reader wanting a little more depth, particularly on mysteries that are less familiar.

If there is a real weakness of the book it is that, for all of Levy's reasonableness, his prose is not very engaging. One would think that exploring these mysteries would generate some real excitement but, if Levy experiences it, he doesn't get it across to the reader. His approach is rather academic which makes for a bit of blandness.

Still, there is a lot of good information here and, for that, Levy is to be praised. Read in concert with a real treasure hunters book on these mysteries to ramp up the energy, it would provide good ballast. As someone who has already read a lot on a number of these stories, I found it to be a good supplement. For someone digging into these mysteries for the first time, I might suggest starting elsewhere.
Interesting reading 22 Nov 2013
By DJ - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I like reading about history, so this book caught my attention. He introduces and explores theories about lost people (Amelia Earhart), lost places (Atlantis, and lost things (King John's treasure.) Some of the people/places/things he writes about (Atlantis, for example) may be real, may be just legend -- who knows? He examines each of the mysteries with the same zeal and lets his readers draw their own conclusions. It was a very interesting read!
willy 23 Sep 2013
By Cammie M. Royce - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love history and this book really made you stop and think about history. If you love history this is the book to read.
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