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Another von Daniken home run
on October 28, 2011
This is another entertaining, well-written, and informative book from Erich von Daniken. The usual elements of witty writing, intense research, lots of minutiae, logical analysis, and questioning of orthodoxy are all present. Somehow, von Daniken manages to cover the same underlying theme (the gods of ancient times were actually aliens from another planet or other planets) from a different and interesting perspective with each book.
These comments from my review of Twilight of the Gods apply also to Odyssey of the Gods:
His iconic book, Chariot of the Gods, not only fueled a counterculture but also became a hit in the main culture. Even after some three dozen books, Erich von Daniken continues to enrapt readers with his provocative thinking, irrefutable evidence, and clear logic. Plus some anomalies that have astute readers grimacing....
Whether his information and conclusions are correct is almost irrelevant to many readers (count me in that group). His books are always worth reading, because they are a pleasure to read. Even with so many books under his belt, von Daniken has written yet another jewel.
Now, for my comments that are specific to Odyssey of the Gods.
As usual, von Daniken takes his shots at archeologists, but in this book he seems to make an unusual effort to avoid going out on any limbs with those comments. I'd hate to be the archeologist in charge of debating the specific errors von Daniken brings up in this book, because I'd have to resort to illogic and lying to prevail. Normally, von Daniken leaves himself open to easy counterargument. He usually gives his opponents the opportunity to cast doubt on everything he says by summarily destroying individual points he brings up. This time, I didn't see that.
And, as usual, he does leave himself open to counterargument by his usual analysis through his mono-lens of "aliens were here." But, as with his other books, those counterarguments are hard to mount.
In Odyssey, the title of the book clues us in as to what his main reference will be. Yep, Homer's Odyssey. His analysis is thought-provoking, partly because it flies in the face of conventional wisdom (or lack thereof) and partly because it's logical.
von Daniken doesn't just stick to Homer. He also looks at Plato. Something interesting about Plato was his reference to a copper/gold alloy called orichalcum. A metallurgist is likely to tell you that Plato must have made this up because the technology to make that alloy simply did not exist at that time. I may be incorrect, but I believe that technology does not yet exist. So, how did this alloy get made? Or was Plato doing some serious reefer?
The answer may lie in von Daniken's discussion of some very old paper-thin gold alloy sheets found Ecuador, or in some other metallurgical oddities that von Daniken discusses. Some of these are quite extreme, and as I understand, beyond current capabilities to produce.
In addition to analyzing various aspects of the Odyssey and related works from the text, von Daniken looks some "coincidences" in the geography. Take, for example, his analysis of where the cities of ancient Greece and surrounding areas were in relation to each other. They form a network of spokes that are the same length. von Daniken believes these cities were sited for the purpose of aviation.
That might be easy to scoff at, except there's no way the people of those times could survey those distances over that terrain (hilly, mountainous, and no line of sight). In fact, this arrangement didn't become known to modern folks until after World War II. And why would the ancients bother to site these cities at precise distances and angles? von Daniken ventures why (aviation) and brings some other facts into his analysis to provide a convincing argument.
What I don't understand about this book is his significant digression into the subject of Atlantis. That seems like a topic for a different book. I don't really see that it belongs in this book, except as a separate chapter or appendix. This book wasn't about disproving theories A, B, and C about the location of Atlantis. Yet, he wove that into the book and I think it just did not fit into the text where it was. The effect was that I lost momentum as a reader. However, it wasn't boring--just out of place.
Throughout the book, you'll find black and white photos of fairly good quality. These are helpful. About halfway through, there's a series of pages containing color photographs. These also add to the book.
This book spans 191 pages of content. In addition, it has a short Preface, an index, and About the Author. It consists of seven chapters; six of those are numbered 1 - 6 and the seventh is simply titled "A Final Word About Atlantis."
Another extract from my review of Twilight of the Gods: Yes, von Daniken is controversial. That does make his books entertaining. But that isn't their only value. He also raises questions that are impossible to answer via our current "book of knowledge." His "alternative" explanation, namely extraterrestrials, becomes the only sensible explanation almost by default.
While von Daniken does not always get his facts right, there is a fact that is yet again proven by this book. The purchase of a von Daniken book is never a waste of money.