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Unearthing Atlantis # Paperback – Feb 1993

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Product details

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books; 1st Vintage Books Ed edition (Feb. 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679734074
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679734079
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2 x 20.3 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 843,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 17 reviews
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Very important subject, but sketchy writing 15 Nov. 2001
By Green Viking - Published on
Format: Paperback
YES: this book is about the real Atlantis. It really did exist, but not in the literal way that Plato described it, and certainly not in the way that New Age speculation "theorists" want it to.
I really wanted to give this book a perfect five-star rating, as the subject matter is immensely important, and the author's enthusiasm makes this book a truly exciting experience. The long story made short is that "Atlantis" was in reality a small island in the east Mediterranean way back around 1600 BC. Thera was a part of the Minoan Empire, and, being a group of islands between Egypt and Greece, had not only the world's first navy, but aquaducts (long before the famous Roman water systems) and a surprisingly highly-evolved culture. Then one day, the volcano at the center of Thera exploded with as least six times the power of Krakatoa (the 1883 eruption that was heard over 2000 miles away), and within seconds 2/3 of the island was in the stratosphere.
This was all before even the Greeks became the dominant force in the region, and so the sudden disappearance of the Minoans (who dominated trade between Europe and Africa) not surprisingly became various stories passed down through the generations, which is where Plato heard it. Plato's description of an entire continent all the way out in the Atlantic that sunk into the sea turned out to be an embellishment on what was, by then, just a myth. He was essentially trying to make a point about how quickly even the most powerful civilization can crumble, and what he said was passed down through the ages, in one form or another, to us. This is how and why these Art Bell "experts" have hijacked this subject and nailed it onto their "theories" of other subjects that have been blown completely out of proportion, such as the Bermuda Triangle, life on Mars, Bigfoot, etc. Case in point: just because Atlantis was advanced by ancient standards, NO: THEY DID NOT HAVE AIRPLANES OR LASERS. Sorry to burst anyone's bubble, but REAL history isn't "Spear of Destiny" garbage: it's how real people really lived, not whatever garbage you want it to be.
Of course, this book was an emotional one to read: an ancient culture creating such high technology (a millenium ahead of its time), only to be totally annihilated in just seconds. If the downfall of Rome and the unsuing loss of knowledge and the onset of the Dark Ages is considered to be historically tragic, this story is then the most epic catastrophe EVER. The author points out that if they were doing what took another 1000 years for the Romans to figure out (such as running water through pipes), who knows what these people might have managed to do? Maybe we would have been on the moon 2000 years ago. We'll never know.
The downfall of this book that I hinted at earlier is that 90% of everything important is said immediately: none of what I've said here is a "big mystery" that gets unravelled through the course of the book. It's like getting hit from all sides with amazing (and very enthusiastic) information about who the Therans might have been, how the world was at the time, and the excitement that Atlantis did exist after all. As great as all of that is, the book suddenly takes a left turn into endless archaeological stories and theories that simply don't have much of anything to do with the subject. At first, it's the author trying to put Theran history into perspective (he says that people have a hard time comprehending what happened over 2000 years ago, and he's right), but he just starts beating this idea to death. He'll occasionally get back to Thera and the ongoing excavations, and then he'll launch back into a whole list of other things that become more and more distracting. By the last 100 pages of the book, it becomes a chore to get through to the end, in the increasingly dismal hope that he'll say more than just one or two things about Thera itself.
This book isn't written as much badly as just way off target. The author's enthusiasm will make you picture him as a kid playing in a sandbox for the very first time (which is probably how he'd actually describe himself), but unfortunately, he runs out of steam when he runs out of things to really say. On the other hand, this subject is fascinating and important, and I would, of course, still highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to find a huge missing piece of history, or to anyone trying to scrape that layer of filth known as "New Age speculation" off of some really solid history: the real thing is far more interesting than the National Enquirer version.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Most informative 26 Jun. 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book makes me want to catch a plane to Thera and help with the excavation. Lots of history and PLENTY of concrete evidence to turn the hardened cynic into a believer. It's a complete journey through time back to the dinosaurs and more. Like the author stated, the brain is a 3-pound time machine. This book is only 1 pound.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
An interesting study, but the approach was not to my taste. 18 Jun. 2008
By Michael A. Torregrossa - Published on
Format: Hardcover
In UNEARTHING ATLANTIS (1991), Pellegrino, a professional paleontologist, offers his own theories about the legend of Atlantis in an approach designed to appeal to general readers as opposed to academic audiences. He concludes that the Atlantis of Plato and the ancient Egyptian texts that were his sources refers to the Minoan culture of the ancient Mediterranean, a civilization that was disrupted (though not destroyed) following a succession of volcanic events on the island of Thera that occurred about 1628 BC. Pellegrino shines in his attempts to prove this theory, as he places the destruction of Thera within the context of contemporary historical events (such as the Biblical Exodus and the rise and fall of the Minoan culture), modern knowledge of volcanology, modern science's ability to date events from the distant past, and modern underwater archaeology. In addition, he also details efforts by modern archaeologists to rediscover ancient Thera.

Pellegrino's study is interesting and genuinely informative, though there are some major issues that readers need to bear in mind. His narrative is presented out of chronological order (in fact, the text jumps around a lot), while his prose tends to ramble at times (often repeating himself, as other reviewers note) and includes long sections that tend to distract one from his argument (for example, a fifty-page odyssey into prehistoric times that ends at the Big Bang). Also, Pellegrino appears to have been deeply affected by his study of Thera and the Monoan civilization, and he tends to criticize most other periods of human history--the Middle Ages receives particularly harsh criticism.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Well researched, masterfully presented and fascinating! 4 April 1999
By Lawrence Tracy Lott - Published on
Format: Paperback
I'm a history buff with a better than average knowledge of the Eastern Mediterranean, but I was astounded by Pellegrino's extraordinary ability to integrate and analyze data from seemingly disparate sources and disciplines. His argument for Thera as Atlantis is totally convincing and captivating - you won't want to put it down. He skillfully recreates the advanced civilization that flourished there and truly moves the reader - this book will haunt you long after you finish it. I loaned my copy to a friend who was going there on vacation - all I got back was a postcard of the excavations! If anyone hears of a pending reprint please let me know.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Charles Pellegrino is a national treasure! 2 Oct. 1998
By strega2 - Published on
Format: Paperback
The brilliant scholar and adventurer Charles Pellegrino has been called "the real Indiana Jones," and for good reason. He pursues archaeological and historical mysteries with the same exciting flair, but his accounts go far deeper than any film. In this, he pursues the age-old mystery of Atlantis, presenting a highly credible argument that this was actually the historical island of Thera that erupted approx. 1500 BC. Pellegrino veers effortlessly between periods millions of years apart, and manages to make this historical hunt every bit as suspenseful and exciting as any Steven Spielberg film. Once you read any one of his astonishing works, you'll be a die-hard fan for life.
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