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Fascinating for the reader unfamilar with these topics
on 14 March 2014
I'll start with the best things I can say about Coppens' book: he provides an interesting collection of stories covering many topics of archeological interest. These topics are supportive of the idea that human civilization existed earlier than we were generally taught to believe. This what got me to read the book while I was researching related topics for my own "End Times and 2019."
Coppens covers many relatively unknown archeological enigmas in detail, starting with Chapter One's focus on the controversy over Neolithic relics and remains at Glozel, France in 1927. Peruvian pyramids at Caral, an astronomical interpretation of the Greek story of the Iliad, and the idea that copper mining in Michigan and the Bronze Age in Europe both ended around 1200 B.C. were also interesting topics not often covered by others. The book provides a great introduction to many topics that could be considered ancient mysteries, at a level I would think is perfect for curious but relatively uneducated teenagers.
Other comments will not be so supportive of the book's quality. While I agree that many sites support the idea that out civilization is at least 12,000 years old, Coppens writes that some "tools, objects, and legends - are tens of thousands - even millions of years old." (p. 10) He dwells on the carvings of the "Ica stones" for a long time, even though he knows and admits that these carvings of humans riding dinosaurs are "fake" and "controversial." He quotes Cremo and Thompson supportively when they write that "anatomically modern humans have coexisted with other primates for tens of millions of years." (p. 56) I felt that anything was worked into this book if it sounded interesting to Coppens, whether anyone could take it seriously or not.
He dives into some odd topics that make no sense and are not even related to the theme of the book, such as the claim that the American Secret Service in the 1920s was afraid of a Chinese invasion of the United States. (p. 165 - but China at that point was too divided and weak to protect itself from the Russian dismemberment of Mongolia or the Japanese invasion that came in the 1930s.) Coppens ends the book focusing on topics like Atlantis and Mu, Shambala in Tibet, finding the geographical center of Britain and Ireland during historical times, and Shamanic visions and near death experiences.
On most pages the writing was adequate but - sometimes - for no apparent reason - the author linked many phrases - together - with hyphens - or commas - in very long run-ons. Sometimes the sentences would not qualify as sentences. There were enough instances of distorted grammar to make a middle school English teacher wince... and make a reader a bit distracted. I only mention it because I've never seen an author do this so much. It really needed more editing. Later edit: I first posted this review in 2012 in the US, and later learned Coppens had been dying when he finished this book. (And I thought I was under time pressure with my upcoming "Antichrist" book!) He undoubtedly would have had more time and done a better job had his health been better.
But overall my issue with the book is that it treats all "interesting" topics almost equally, whether they merit intelligent consideration (like Middle Eastern civilization back to about 10,000 B.C.) or they claim that humans were making artifacts millions, or even tens or hundreds of millions of years ago. I judge many such things to merit ridicule; Coppens judged them worthy of lengthy commentary, and unfortunately many poorly educated readers will take them seriously.
If you're 13 years old and have never heard of Zahi Hawass, Caral, or Gobekli Tepe but are interested in the idea that the true, really ancient history just isn't taught to us, you'll love this book. If you've read books by Graham Hancock or Robert Schoch or John Michell and appreciated them, you would probably be disappointed.