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Talisman : Sacred Cities, Secret Faith Hardcover – 27 May 2004


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Michael Joseph Ltd; First Edition edition (27 May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718143159
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718143152
  • Product Dimensions: 14.8 x 5.1 x 22.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 148,844 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

When I was East Africa correspondent of The Economist, writing about wars, politics, economics and aid programmes, I had no idea where fate was going to lead me or what strange seas of thought I would find myself sailing on. But in 1983 I made my first visit to Axum in northern Ethiopia, then in the midst of a war zone, and found myself in the presence of an ancient monk outside a little chapel in the grounds of the cathedral of Saint Mary of Zion. The monk told me that the chapel was the sanctuary of the Ark of the Covenant and that he was the guardian of the Ark, the most sacred relic of the Bible, supposedly lost since Old Testament times. What he said seemed ludicrous but for some reason it intrigued me. I began to look into the Ethiopian claim and found much surprising and neglected evidence that supported it, not least the faint traces of a mission to Ethiopia undertaken by the Knights Templar in the twelfth century. I kept adding to that dossier of evidence while also continuing to pursue my current affairs interests (including Lords of Poverty, my controversial book about foreign aid, published in 1989), and finally, in 1992, I published The Sign and the Seal: A Quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant, my first full-fledged investigation of a historical mystery.

As well as to Ethiopia and to Israel, my research for The Sign and the Seal had taken me to Egypt and opened my eyes to the incredible enigma of the Great Pyramid of Giza, while the "technological" aspects of the Ark (shooting out bolts of fire, striking people dead, etc) had alerted me to the existence of out of place technologies in antiquity. The stage was now set for my next project - a worldwide investigation into the possibility of a lost, prehistoric civilisation that resulted, in 1995, in the publication of Fingerprints of the Gods, undoubtedly my best known book. Keeper of Genesis (co-authored with Robert Bauval) followed in 1996, looking specifically into the mysteries of the Great Sphinx of Giza, and then in 1998 Heaven's Mirror, photographed by my wife Santha Faiia, which shows why many ancient sites in all parts of the globe replicate the patterns of constellations on the ground and are aligned to important celestial events such as the rising points of the sun on the equinoxes and the solstices. In 2002, I published Underworld, the result of five years of scuba diving across all the world's oceans to find ancient ruins submerged by rising sea levels at the end of the Ice Age.

After Underworld, I decided to step away from lost civilisation mysteries for a while and my next non-fiction book, Supernatural: Meetings with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind, published in 2005, focussed on shamanism, altered states of consciousness and the astonishing universal themes that appear in rock and cave art from deepest antiquity right through to the paintings done by shamans in the Amazon rainforest today.

From my years as a journalist I've always distrusted armchair theorising and believed I have a responsibility to seek out direct personal, "boots on the ground" experience of what I'm writing about. That was why I did five years of often difficult and dangerous scuba diving for Underworld. And it's also why, as part of my research for Supernatural I travelled to the Amazon to drink the visionary brew Ayahuasca with shamans there. As well as better equipping me to write Supernatural, my experiences in the Amazon changed my life and brought out a new side of my own creativity. I've continued working with Ayahuasca ever since and in 2006, during a series of sessions in Brazil, in a ceremonial space overlooked by images of a blue goddess, my visions gave me the basic characters, dilemmas and plot of the book that would become my first novel, Entangled, published in 2010. Entangled tells the story of two young women, one living 24,000 years ago in the Stone Age, and the other in modern Los Angeles, who are brought together by a supernatural being to do battle with a demon who travels through time.

Since the publication of Entangled I have also written the first two volumes of a series of three epic novels about the Spanish conquest of Mexico - the War God trilogy. The first volume, War God: Nights of the Witch, was published in May 2013, and the second volume, War God: Return of the Plumed Serpent, is published in October 2014. The third volume, War God: Apocalypse, is already more than half written and will be published in 2016 but in the meantime I am putting the finishing touches to a new non-fiction book, Magicians of the Gods, which will be published in late 2015. Magicians is the sequel to Fingerprints of the Gods, and presents all the new evidence that has emerged since 1995 for a great lost civilisation of prehistoric antiquity and for the global cataclysm that destroyed that civilisation almost 13,000 years ago - a cataclysm on such a scale that it forced mankind, as Plato put it, "to begin again like children with no memory of what went before."

My ideas on prehistory and on the mysterious nature of reality have made me something of a controversial figure. In 1999, for example BBC Horizon made a documentary ("Atlantis Reborn") attacking my position on the lost civilisation. But part of that documentary was found by the UK's Broadcasting Standards Commission to be unfair - the first time ever that the flagship Horizon series had been judged guilty of unfairness. The BBC took the problem seriously enough to put out a revised re-edited version of the programme a year later. More recently, in 2013, my TED talk "The War on Consciousness" was deleted from the TED Youtube channel on grounds that TED itself later admitted to be spurious by striking out every one of the objections it had originally raised to my talk. TED, however, refused to restore the talk to its Youtube channel resulting in dozens of pirate uploads all over the internet that have now registered well over a million views.

I make mistakes like everyone else, but ever since my time with The Economist I've felt it is important to strive for rigour and accuracy, to check facts, to set out my sources clearly and openly for all to see and to admit my mistakes when I make them. As I continue to explore extraordinary ideas in my works of non-fiction, and in my novels, I'll also continue to do that.


Product Description

About the Author

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.

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By D. LIGHTBODY on 29 Jun 2004
Format: Hardcover
Worth reading if you're interested in freemasonry, and how it effects us all.
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
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By millie1512 on 30 Aug 2004
Format: Hardcover
The premise of Robert Bauval and Graham Hancock's book can be summarised as follows: Ancient Egyptian philosophy and thought has survived in various forms to the present day through Hermiticism, Gnostic Christianity, the Cathars, secret societies and freemasonary.
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.
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31 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Colin Wilson on 29 Jun 2004
Format: Hardcover
Review sent yeaterday with minor corrections.
review of Talisman by Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval, Penguin/Michael Joseph
Talisman, by Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval
Penguin/Michael Joseph, £20
Review by Colin Wilson
Three years ago I attended a conference in Cagliari, in Sardinia, where writers like Erich von Daniken and Alan Alford explained their latest researches into the origins of civilisation. But the most remarkable event of that weekend was a talk by Robert Bauval about the discoveries that were the basis of his work-in-progress, Talisman.
Bauval is a speaker of amazing vitality and enthusiasm, and even though he was the final speaker of a long day, and we were all thinking longingly about dinner and Sardinian wine, we forgot that as Bauval produced an amazing fireworks display of ideas. And when dusk began to fall in the courtyard the of the conference centre and the chairman suggested bringing the talk to a close, there was a groan from the audience. At which point, the conference organiser, Sylvano Salvatici, suggested that those who wanted to hear more should go to a hall upstairs, while those who wished to leave could do so. Virtually whole whole audience of three hundred or so trooped upstairs, where Bauval spent another ninety minutes completing his exposition.
Ever since then I have been waiting to read the book. And when it arrived a month ago, a vast tome of 562 pages, I settled down to it immediately.
It is certainly one of the most remarkable works published in the 21st century, and throws a totally new light on the history of the past 2,000 years.
What Bauval told us that day in Cagliari was this.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By James McGovern on 26 April 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Contrary to what another reviewer has stated, I should make it clear that nowhere in this book is there any mention whatsoever of the infamous work of fiction, "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion". This other reviewer clearly has not read "Talisman", and it would appear that they gained their erroneous opinion from a misunderstanding of another previous review. The authors of this book do mention at one point that certain Islamic extremists believe, for some reason, that the Freemasons are helping the Zionist (i.e., pro-Israel) cause in the Middle Eastern region. Other than this largely irrelevant point, there is nothing even remotely connected with the Protocols in this work.

As for the real content of the book, it gives a brief overview of history in which the authors attempt to illustrate the connections between certain esoteric sects. The Gnostics and Hermetics of the Roman period are portrayed as having received some of their inspiration and ideas from Ancient Egypt, and the later Cathars and Bogomils of medieval Europe are theorised to have both been the inheritors of this Gnostic and Hermetic knowledge. A moderate case is set forth to support this basic thesis, including a comparative look at early Hermetic writings and the Egyptian "Book of the Dead", but it seems the authors did not spend enough time on their ideas to give them real justice, I feel.

There are a few minor errors in this book that I noticed, which implies there may be more. On page 377 it is stated that on "27 December 1789 Pope Clement XII signed the order for Cagliostro's arrest." This can hardly be correct, considering Pope Clement XII died in 1740!
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