Once upon a time, not too long ago, the popular Discovery Channel show did a special where they examined various movie related myths to see if they could actually happen in real life. One thing they examined was the scene in INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM where Indy and Willy Scott jump out of a window from a tall building and fall through one window canopy after another. They found that though a person would probably be severely injured as a result, they could survive such a fall.
I mention this episode because WHY DID IT HAVE TO BE SNAKES? does much the same thing. The book examines many of the historical, archaeological, mythological, and some of the scientific aspects in the Indiana Jones canon (the movies and the Young Indiana Jones television show) to see what is true and what is just Hollywood fiction. The book breaks apart the films and the YOUNG INDIANA JONES CHRONICLES television show into short synopsis of particular scenes. These synopses are followed by an explanation of the real history and science behind the synopsis. For example, the opening section begins with the summary of the opening scene of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and Indy escaping with the golden-headed idol in the jungles of Peru. The explanation following the synopsis explains that the Hovitos tribe in the movie is probably based off the Quechuas people who lived in northern Peru; that the temple is probably a combination between the fabled Incan temple of Cuzco, Koricancha, and the Chachapoyan temple, Keulap; and that Indy's discovery of such a temple would be a definite possibility. The explanation gives a brief history of the Chachapoyas and how they were eventually conquered by the Incan Quechuas.
WHY DID IT HAVE TO BE SNAKES? is filled with all kinds of historical and scientific tidbits. Everything from the history of certain South American tribes, different varieties of snakes, giant spiders, possible locations of the Ark of the Covenant, giant diamonds of the world, Chinese mafia, short history of India, Indian cults, animals of India, Coronado, origin of the Boy Scouts in the United States, traveling circuses, zeppelins as air travel, mythology of the Holy Grail, and all the famous people that Indiana Jones supposedly met as a youth, and much, much more are examined.
As a fan of Indiana Jones and someone who loves learning, I really enjoyed reading WHY DID IT HAVE TO BE SNAKES? My only criticism of the book is that as noted in the notes and bibliography sections at the end of the book, the authors relied almost completely upon Internet research. I have nothing against using the Internet for research, but relying solely upon the Internet and no other sources causes one to question the validity of the overall work.
Nevertheless, I did find the book informative and entertaining. Recommended for Indiana Jones fans and trivia buffs.