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When I started the book I wondered whether it would veer towards crystals-and-harmony New Age acceptance of Atlantis or else be a mocking catalog of crazy Atlantis belief; but, to my surprise, it did neither. Instead, we are treated to a witty travelogue in the spirit of Bill Bryson - a well-written and thoughtful discussion of scholarly (and serious amateur) efforts to locate the source of the Atlantis myth interspersed with personal asides and observations. Adams takes us on a tour of candidate locations, and gives us sharply written encounters with the people behind each potential theory. It is a fascinating (and fun!) listen.
The book hinges on the account of Atlantis in Plato, and, as a result, there is a lot of deep discussion of Plato and his beliefs in an attempt to identify the truth behind the accounts. Along the way, we are treated to bits on volcanology, archaeology, ancient trade routes, and 19th century cranks. It may sound dry, but it is almost all told in a breezy, entertaining style, focused around interviews with interesting people.
Surprisingly, it also takes the subject seriously: Adams actually draws some conclusions at the end that wraps things up on a (relatively) satisfying note. The reading is also excellent. Overall, a great find for anyone looking for witty history with a personal flavor, I am really happy I found it.
75 of 75 people found this review helpful
There is something about ancient mysteries that proves to be an irresistible draw for many of us and that really is what Mark Adams' exploration into the legend of Atlantis is about. If you're looking for a book about the woo woo world of ancient aliens, super beings or alternate dimensions, this will not be the book for you--although there are brief forays into the beliefs of Madame Blavatsky, Edgar Cayce and even Nazi Occultists (who believed that the "superior" Aryan race was descended from the inhabitants of Atlantis).
Rather, Adams engages us in a thoughtful and intelligent quest into the meaning of Atlantis and its potential reality. Large sections are devoted to an analysis of Plato's writings on the topic (our sole source for the existence of Atlantis) as well as the writings of other contemporary philosophers and historians in the ancient world. We also learn a lot about the history of the ancient world culturally, meteorologically and geologically. Adams explores current thinking about the topic, interviewing archeologists, scientists (including a physicist whose interest in Atlantis was initially spurred by a Scrooge McDuck cartoon) and a plethora of amateur investigators. He treats his subject seriously and with an open mind as to the possible origins and veracity of the legend.
The book can be pretty dense at times and would have benefitted from an accompanying pdf with maps and diagrams of some of the concepts, but Adams does a good job of not overwhelming the reader with technical information--breaking it up with often humorous descriptions of his travels. I learned a lot from this book and not just about Atlantis. Narration is excellent. A good and thought-provoking read.
25 of 25 people found this review helpful