This is a terrific book about Stonehenge! Mr. Chippindale has created a wonderfully informative and readable book about one of the most famous archaeological monuments in the world.
This book takes the famous quote from Jacquetta Hawkes "Every age has the Stonehenge it deserves and - desires", and illustrates it by giving an overview of all the various paradigms that have been used to explain Stonehenge. Instead of giving the reader dreadfully boring and mind-numbing details about Stonehenge and the research into it, he gives us a brief description of what is physically there at Stonehenge, then he outlines what each succesive era has thought of Stonehenge since its "re-descovery" in the 12th century A.D.
All the theories, from Geoffrey of Monmouth and Merlin to the current fad of UFOs and extraterrestrials are explored. Mr. Chippindale lists sources, so that if you are interested in any particular theoretical perspective you are welcome to explore further.
Mr. Chippindale is a well-respected archaeologist and the editor of one of the pre-eminent archaeological journals, "Antiquity". He does state that he firmly is in the camp of the archaeologist, as far as explaining the origin and history of Stonehenge. However, that does not prevent him from presenting many of the other competing paradigms of Stonehenge's origin.
The book is richly illustrated throughout with photographs going back over 100 years, plus drawings and paintings that date back at least to the 16th century. The paintings of Stonehenge also help illustrate what the artist thought of this monument.
It was also quite fascinating to read about the various ideas for "preserving Stonehenge" over the last 150 years. There have been many different ideas about how this monument should be presented, and even now there is controversy about the way Stonehenge is presented to the public.
In this book you get to meet many interesting characters who left their mark on Stonehenge and its interpretation, from John Aubrey, William Cunnington, Inigo Jones, Colin Renfrew to modern new age researchers. They and their concepts are all presented here.
I strongly recommend this book as a start for anyone interested in learning more about Stonehenge. It is written with a sense of humor, and in a very readable style. You can then branch out to read more in-depth studies of the various theories and paradigms that you are interested in.