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Imagining Atlantis (Vintage)by Richard Ellis
Synopses & Reviews
The idea of Atlantis, the lost continent, has tantalized the human imagination since the fourth century B.C. when the brilliant civilization and its mysterious destruction were first mentioned by Plato. Is it only a myth, or did a real Atlantis exist? Over the centuries this question has inspired countless theories, from the scientifically challenging to the undeniably crackpot.
Richard Ellis takes us on a fascinating journey through the rich and exotic history of the search for Atlantis, during which we meet characters as diverse as Francis Bacon, Jules Verne, Edgar Cayce, Jacques Cousteau, Charles Berlitz, and even Indiana Jones. Both scholarly and diverting, Imagining Atlantis has been hailed as the most important book ever written about the Atlantis legend and its perennial appeal.
"Quite simply the best book on Atlantis ever written...Anyone interested in lost civilizations should look no further." Brian Fagan, Los Angeles Times
"Engaging, lucid, and full of lore." The New Yorker
"Entertaining, thorough account..." The New York Times Book Review
"A remarkable detective story by a writer with a wonderful combination of healthy skepticism and impressive research skills....This is, quite simply, the best book on Atlantis ever written and almost the last word on the subject. Anyone interested in lost civilizations should look no further." The Los Angeles Times Book Review
"An entertaining, thorough yet readable account of the geological and archeological evidence that may have contributed to this peculiar myth." The New York Times Book Review
"The nexus between myth and reality, a minor but resonant theme in Ellis's illuminating and original books about marine life...comes to the forefront in this astute and delectable history of the imagining of Atlantis." Booklist
"Ellis has written an important volume in the library of Atlantis literature, but he fails to integrate his scientific observations into a broader understanding of the legend. The result is a dry, soulless account of what Atlantis is not, and lacks a serious evaluation of what Atlantis means. The myth deserves deeper examination." Scott Holleran, The San Francisco Chronicle
"Engaging, lucid, full of lore." The New Yorker
"A wide-ranging, shrewd, often entertaining survey of the various theories plausible, scientific, far-fetched, or downright loony that have been proposed over the centuries." The Christian Science Monitor
"Ellis takes us on a magnificent journey that leads us to a better understanding of earthquakes, tsunamis, flood myths, volcanology, architecture, archaelogy, the works of Jules Verne and Arthur Conan Doyle....A real treat." Daniel McMahon, Washington Post
Ever since Plato created the legend of the lost island of Atlantis, it has maintained a uniquely strong grip on the human imagination. For two and a half millennia, the story of the city and its catastrophic downfall has inspired people--from Francis Bacon to Jules Verne to Jacques Cousteau--to speculate on the island's origins, nature, and location, and sometimes even to search for its physical remains. It has endured as a part of the mythology of many different cultures, yet there is no indisputable evidence, let alone proof, that Atlantis ever existed. What, then, accounts for its seemingly inexhaustible appeal?
Richard Ellis plunges into this rich topic, investigating the roots of the legend and following its various manifestations into the present. He begins with the story's origins. Did it arise from a common prehistorical myth? Was it a historical remnant of a lost city of pre-Columbians or ancient Egyptians? Was Atlantis an extraterrestrial colony? Ellis sifts through the "scientific" evidence marshaled to "prove" these theories, and describes the mystical and spiritual significance that has accrued to them over the centuries. He goes on to explore the possibility that the fable of Atlantis was inspired by a conflation of the high culture of Minoan Crete with the destruction wrought on the Aegean world by the cataclysmic eruption, around 1500 b.c., of the volcanic island of Thera (or Santorini).
A fascinating historical and archaeological detective story, Imagining Atlantis is a valuable addition to the literature on this essential aspect of our mythohistory.
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Richard Ellis is the author of seven previous books, including The Book of Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises, Monsters of the Sea, and Deep Atlantic. He is also a celebrated marine artist whose paintings have been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world, and has written and illustrated articles for numerous magazines, including Audubon, Reader's Digest, National Geographic, and Scientific American. He lives in New York City.
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History and Social Science » Western Civilization » General