This book would not have been so disappointing if not for the fact that I had come to expect work of the highest standards from Colin Wilson. It's difficult for me to try to assess a really bad book written by someone I admire so much. What went wrong?
The book starts out with a rambling bit of name dropping and irrelevant commentary on the work of some of the "alternative history researchers" popular at the present time. It almost reads like something written by a guy whose gone senile and I was actually wondering if that was the problem. At one point, Wilson remarks that Graham Hancock became a millionaire from his alternative history works, so maybe that is acting on Wilson and he wants to get on the bandwagon. Problem is, he just isn't constitutionally capable of it.
The end result is a rehash of every silly alternative history theory that's been written about in the past 20 years or so, moving from one to the other with no really thread of connectivity. It's almost as though somebody hired Wilson to give his "stamp of approval" to some of that nonsense. Now, let me be clear, I'm not saying that mainstream history is acceptable either - most often, I would favor "alternative" views, the problem I have with most of it is the same problem I have with mainstream history: assumptions and agendas prevail and all the evidence is not treated equally.
It then gets even more bizarre: not only does he accept uncritically some of the stranger alternative theories, he then does the same thing with the materialist mainstream view of it all!
How does he do this?
By proposing that all those alternative histories were true. BUT, since the only people that mainstream science says were around during those very ancient times of the civilizations claimed to have existed by the alternative researchers, were Neanderthals, then obviously, it was all the work of Neanderthals!
And how did the Neanderthals create this great civilizations? In their minds! They had psychic powers and it was all an alternative reality creation. Not only that, the Neanderthals didn't really know they were doing this because they were... Autistic!
Wilson accepts as reasonable so many really nutty things throughout this book that I guess it should not be a surprise that the only possible choice is Autistic Neanderthal.
Unfortunately, he just didn't do the research on Neanderthals that he should have done. Thing is, I KNOW he's done some good research and writing on ancient civilizations, so why he came up with this silly idea I'll never know. (Yes, he got it from Stan Gooch, a medium turned psychologist, but you get the point?)
All in all, a hugely disappointing book; it was actually embarrassing - like watching Wilson make a fool of himself in public because that is, essentially, what this book has done.
I'm sorry, Mr. Wilson - I've admired your work for years, but this is just bottom of the barrel.