"Fingerprints of the Gods" looks at various archaeological sites and concludes that in their sophistication they show evidences of a higher civilization than can be accounted for by our view of history. We see human history as linear, constantly reaching greater heights of development, but Hancock sees the achievements of some early civiliazations as being higher than anything that came until much later (or ever, even until the present, in some cases). These achievements seem to have sprung up out of nothing, with little evidence of a long process of perfecting the techniques involved, before they appeared already in perfect form, and then seemed to quickly disappear again.
He starts off with South and Central America, but his primary exhibits are the Giza pyramids, the Sphinx, and other Egyptian sites. He makes a good case that the pyramids are an anomolously awesome achievement of engineering, and notes that within a couple of generations the Egyptians went from architectural perfection to building pieces of crap that could be knocked over by a camel's fart. He also cites interesting geological evidence that the pyramids and the sphinx could be way older than generally thought, and also makes a good case that they weren't built as tombs or burial monuments, at least not principally.
As a layman, reading this part I felt that Egyptologists had been very hasty in coming to conclusions regarding the pyramids, and that they were ignoring evidence that didn't suit received theories. I feel Hancock was very successful in demonstrating that the consensus re dating and purpose of the pyramids raises more questions than it answers.
Hancock's own theory regards a super-civilization whose traces have now been lost - they lived in present-day Antarctica when that landmass was in a temperate zone, before crust displacement caused an apocalypse and shook the continents around. It was in this highly advanced civilization that massive strides in astronomy, engineering, etc. were made, then lost. Clearly, Hancock's theory is highly speculative, though he does make a decent effort to provide sources for all his conjectures, and he's obviously done a lot of reading across different disciplines.
This book raises great questions. It doesn't always answer them in a totally satisfactory way, but it's fascinating, thought-provoking and engaging, and a good read. His conclusion also relies a lot more on the Egyptian stuff than the American stuff, so I think that early part dealing with the Aztec/ Inca etc. could have been edited down considerably. He gets a bit carried away in the final pages, too, a bit too apocalyptic for my liking. Ok, Hancock works his figures to show the end of times is written in the stars and it's coming soon, but what about his final witness, that Hopi Indian who prophecies the end of the world "if people do not change their ways"? This Hopi guy in no ways says anything relevant to Hancock's theory, he appears to be a randomly-chosen the-end-is-nigh type nut, and to end on that note is a mistake, in my view. But mostly Hancock's tone is reasonably sober and scholarly, but not dry or pedantic. It has an air of intense intellectual commitment, which is always enjoyable to read when combined with a reasonable level of scholarly or journalistic rigour, which I feel this book has. A really fascinating book that I enjoyed greatly.
Note: This is the 1995 version. Later this book was updates, so I'd be interested to find out what he added or deleted.