Saturday, October 31, 2009

Book: Lost Histories: Missing Cities, Treasures, Artefacts and People

Product Description

"The Ark of the Covenant" and the "Holy Grail" are the most famous lost artefacts in history, but everything from armies and cities, to plays and poems, have been swallowed up by the sands and seas of history, leaving behind only legends to tantalise and inspire archaeologists and treaure hunters alike. Is there any evidence of El Dorado and Sodom and Gommorah? Have we really lost plays by Shakespeare and dialogue from Aristotle? Will divers ever find the Golden Hide or Columbus' fleet? And where are the resting places of a host of bodies, from Ghengis Khan to George Mallory?

About the Author

Joel Levy is a writer on science, psychology, history and the paranormal, and the author of several books, including: - Really Useful - the history and science of everyday things. - Secret History - hidden forces that shaped the past - Boost Your Brain Power - a guide to testing and improving your mental abilities, from memory and problem solving to creativity and emotional intelligence. - How 'Perfect' is Your Partner? - co-author of a comprehensive guide to testing whether you and your partner are compatible. - KISS Guide to the Unexplained - a beginner's guide to historical secrets and mysteries, the paranormal and supernatural. - Fabulous Creatures - about creatures of myth and folklore. - The Universe in Your Pocket - a pocket compendium of essential facts. - Technocreatures - a guide to the exciting new science of biomorphic and biomimetic robots - robots modelled on animals.


The Vanishings, 13 Oct 2007
William Holmes "semloh2287" (Portland, OR USA) 

Joel Levy's "Lost Histories" is an interesting survey of a whole range of ancient and historical mysteries. The mysteries involve people or treasures or cities that went missing, but Levy is pretty skeptical in his approach. If you buy the book expecting that the mysteries will be solved by appeals to supernatural or extraterrestrial forces, you'll be disappointed. On the other hand, if you are looking for a book that nicely recaps the mysteries and summarizes modern thinking about them (as I was), you'll really enjoy "Lost Histories".

Levy covers many topics in fairly short chapters--some of the stories will be familiar to those who enjoy tales of historical mysteries, but others (like the lost army of Cambyses, the lost Persian Fleet, the fate of King John's crown jewels and the tragic loss of the White Ship) seem fresh, at least to me. The book is divided into several sections, each of which includes several chapters. The section on "Lost Places" discusses Atlantis, The Temple of Solomon, The Library at Alexandria, Camelot and El Dorado; the section on "Lost Artefacts, Works and Relics" covers the Ark of the Covenant, the lost dialogues of Artistole, the Holy Grail (whatever it was), and Shakepeare's "lost" plays; "Lost Treasures" deals with the Dead Sea scrolls, King John's jewels, treasures of the Knights Templar, Montezuma's treasure, the buried pirate treasure of Captain Kidd, and the Oak Island Money Pit; "Lost People" explores the lost Persian army of Cambyses (swallowed up by the Egyptian desert), the location of Boudicca's grave, The Lost Colony of Roanoke, and, of course, the disappearance of Amelia Earhart; finally, the section on "Lost Wrecks" seeks the location of the Persian invasion fleets lost during the wars with Greece, the White Ship, Spanish treasure galleons and Lord Franklin's ill fated expedition to find the Northwest Passage.

I found Levy's book to be quite readable, although the number of topics covered means that he doesn't get into any of them in great detail. Each chapter comes with a list of references, which will help the reader who wants to dive more deeply into the topics that Levy surveys.

All in all, this is a fun, entertaining little book, and one of the better expositions of historical mysteries that I've encountered. Based on my experience with this volume, I ordered up Levy's "Secret History" and "The Doomsday Book" and look forward to some more enjoyable reading.


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