'Talisman' is a roller-coaster intellectual journey through the back streets and rat runs of history to uncover the traces in architecture and monuments of a secret religion that has shaped the world.
Graham Hancock is a journalist (has worked for The Sunday Times) and the author of a number of books including FINGERPRINTS OF THE GODS.
Robert Bauval is the author of THE ORION MYSTERY. He has co-written books with Graham Hancock.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
First, it is a large book and quite heavy reading. Many different people, times, places, from 3000BC to present. It's a massive subject, and Bauval & Hancock have tried to tie together events right through, so its probably not surprising its so huge. I was pretty up on the subject already but still found it heavy going, and maybe because of the ease of Internet researching, it has a bit of a cut'n'paste feel about it.
I think there is a lot of info missed out, perhaps deliberately, to limit the subject.
Its also pretty much a summary of several other books such as those by Robert Lomas on the freemasons. Bauval does add some of his own new interpretations that seem accurate. The "Picatrix" text is also interesting.
So, all in all, I wasn't convinced of a direct link back to Gnostic Alexandria, but more a general survival of ideas of free thought through the dark ages of Christian suppression. I was however convinced that the secret societies were a direct result of repressive monarchs and religion, and that almost everyone of influence was connected to freemasonry in the 18-19th centuries.
On the subject of modern freemasonry, there is no doubt now about the direct influence on city plans, buildings, & policy, which continues today.
So, in summary, lots of good info if a bit selective, not Pseudo-History, but a difficult book to read
The first section of this very weighty work is devoted to forms of Christianity which competed with Catholicism from the first centuries AD to the middle ages. Hancock and Bauval make a convincing case that a continuum exists between Gnostic thought in early Christian Egypt and the Cathars of 12th / 13th Century Languedoc via sects in Armenia, Turkey and the Balkans.
And while other books about the Cathars have placed the Albigensian Crusade in a political context (French King stirs up trouble to extend France southwards), Hancock and Bauval present it as a clash of cultures, values and religion.
Talisman presents both a very detailed and a very accessible explanation of what the Cathars actually believed. For that reason alone I found the book worth buying. Had the authors stopped their narrative in the early 14th century then Talisman for me would have been a hands down winner.
Where it loses its way is in the second half of the book, where Hancock and Bauval try to explain how Hermetic thought carried on through the middle ages and rennaissance. The second half does however include some some fascinating nuggets of information, for example the obsession French revolutionary leaders had with ancient Egyptian religion and symbolism and how they wove it onto their 'Cult of the Supreme Being', which was to replace Christianity.
Unfortunately the final few chapters seem almost rushed as if the authors wanted to finish up and move onto other projects.
For example the last few chapter on the state of Israel and Islamic fundamentalism is pretty random and reads as if it was tacked on from another book altogether. This leaves the authors open to being mis-interpreted. Another reviewer has said that Bauval and Hancock claim some sort of masonic conspiracy was behind the creation of Israel. In no way do they believe a 'way out' and downright theory like this.
As Robert Bauval says in the official website of the book, what they do believe is that there is much to support the contention that radical Arab and Judeo-Christian fundamentalists may actually believe is such a conspiracy. A crucial and a very big difference, but one that would have been clearer had they spent more time expanding on it, rather than adding it in the final section of Talisman almost as an afterthought.
review of Talisman by Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval, Penguin/Michael Joseph
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