42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Rich in detail and thought-provoking, a masterful synthesis,
By A Customer
This review is from: From Atlantis to the Sphinx: Recovering the Lost Wisdom of the Ancient World (Paperback)
I read this book twice, once when it first came out and again more recently. The first time I read it I was familiar with some of the source material Wilson draws on. These parts of the book, at that time, were obviously not as engaging for me, nor, I suspect, will they be for others very familiar with the material. However, upon rereading it a couple years later I was again reminded of Wilson's masterful ability to draw together disparate sources of information to form a cohesive pattern. Of course, this involves speculation, but this type of inquiry always requires speculation, and Wilson manages to build a more cautious and convincing argument than many of his contemporaries. (That said, the reader must still be willing to be open-minded and entertain ideas that might not sit well, at least at first. If you have firmly made up your mind that, for example, there are no real mysteries surrounding the pyramids of Egypt or the sphinx and are unwilling to consider other opinions on the subject, then you probably won't be moved by much of this book.)
When drawing information from a variety of sources, it is likely that some of that information will later prove either incorrect or outdated. It is a testament to the cohesiveness of Wilson's argument that it does not rest on a single piece of evidence but is rather buttressed by a range of facts that each contributes to its strength. From reading some other reviews (here and elsewhere), I gather that often some of these "facts" don't sit well with all readers. This is reasonable (don't believe everything you read!); however, Wilson's style of thinking and researching make one less likely to discount his entire argument based on disagreement with parts of it. Furthermore, he is very adept at drawing his argument out over an entire book, reminding the reader along the way what the central themes are, before plunging back into the detailed information that forms the supports of his argument. What this results in is a stimulating, idea-filled journey that criss-crosses through numerous disciplines and over vast spans of time.
"From Atlantis to the Sphinx" in many ways forms a natural extension of Wilson's philosophy as expounded in his previous books. In this particular case, Wilson's ultimate aim - to demonstrate that ancient man had a different mode of thinking/perception/relationship to the natural world and the universe - is ultimately convincing for me because traces of this different mode still exist within us. If, by the time you're done with the book, you yourself aren't entirely convinced of this, I think you will still have found the journey worth the effort.
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