Customer Review

2 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Has the mystery finally been solved?, 6 Dec 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Lost Civilisations of the Stone Age: A Journey Back to Our Cultural Origins (Hardcover)
As the sun rises over Colonel Percy Plimmington's English mansion a terrible scream is heard. Sir Percy's maid, Emily has discovered a body in the library. The police are called in and despite their best efforts they cannot make head nor tail of the case. At this point, Sherlock Holmes and his trusty sidekick Dr. Watson arrive on the scene. After a detailed examination, Holmes has Watson assemble the household in the library where the great detective will solve the mystery. Sir Percy and his lovely young wife Mildred arrive, followed by the still shocked maid Emily and Gilbert the Butler who wheels in the crippled Granny Plimmington with her white Persian cat Fluffy sitting contentedly on her lap. There is a deadly silence as everyone looks to Holmes. Sherlock takes in this pregnant pause and then says: "After a careful examination of the evidence I can now announce that the culprit is amongst us at this very moment!" Everyone turns and looks at each other. "Well, well" Watson urges "pray tell us Holmes." Holmes takes a puff from his pipe and then using it as a sword points directly at Granny Plimmington declaring "him!" Watson is dumbfounded saying "But she's in a wheelchair, how on earth could she have done it?" We fully expect that Holmes will stride across the room, grab Granny Plimmington's hair and yank it off exposing the gentle old lady to be the long lost cousin who harbers ill will towards the whole Plimmington family. But this is not what happens. Holmes declares "Not her, you fool! It's the cat Fluffy who is the culprit!" Everyone is reeling. Watson asks again "but how on earth..." when Holmes interrupts saying: The cat, my dear Watson is not simply a gentle domesticated animal but also a keen hunter." "Yes, yes" Watson replies. "And amongst the ancient Egyptians" Holmes explains " the cat was greatly honoured for its ability to kill rodents." "We know, we know" the Doctor replies "but do tell us what Fluffy has got to do with the body in the library?" "It is elementary my dear Watson" Holmes responds "for though it may have escaped your notice the body in the library is not that of human at all." Dr. Watson's shock is complete. "No, indeed" Sherlock Holmes concludes "the body in the library is in fact the remains of a common rodent known as mouse." Everyone looks down at the body and sees at once that the mystery has been solved.
You might wonder what my Sherlock Holmes story has to do with a review of Richard Ridgley LOST CIVILISATIONS OF THE STONE AGE? I will reply: "everything." If my little trick worked at all it is because everyone assumed that the "body" in the library was a human body and that is exactly what I wanted you to believe. In the same manner, Richard Ridgley is playing upon the word "civilisation". The title of his book leads one to believe that this is a quest for civilisations for which we have yet no full evidence. But such an assumption is unwarranted because Ridgley is using the word "civilisation" in a manner that doesn't at all resemble our common notion. It is a sly attempt to capture some of the audience of readers who have enjoyed the alternative archaeology books created in recent years by such authors as Graham Hancock in his FINGERPRINTS OF THE GODS or the book I co-authored with my wife Rose, WHEN THE SKY FELL: IN SEARCH OF ATLANTIS. We actually are on a quest for a lost civilisation that existed during the last Ice Age. Ridgley's book is an attempt to capture our readers by fooling them into believing that he is on the same quest. He is not! A more fitting title for his book would be FORGOTTEN SOCIETIES OF THE STONE AGE but then you probably wouldn't be reading this review if he had choosen a title that represented the contents of his book. That being said, this is still a very good book and I highly recommend it for those who wish to pursue a definition of what does and does not constitute a 'civilisation." For everyone else, all I can say is "you have been warned."
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Initial post: 25 Jun 2014 20:23:12 BDT
Phil says:
Having read and appreciated the commentator's book "when the sky fell" I fully understand his drift. Yet perhaps we need to evaluate what is meant by the word 'civilisation'. I think the author of 'Lost civilisations of the stone age' makes it clear in the first chapter or so that the things which contribute most to civilisation are not our ideas of living-space, or technology, or so-called culture. Ability to live socially, intelligent and responsible use of environmental resources without always having hostile encounters with other members of one's own species (a characteristic of modern civilisation) and a healthy respect for other species are probably more conducive to a settled and peaceful co-existence than the way we ourselves carry on. Maybe ours is "civilisation gone insane"? Phil
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