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Finding Atlantis: A True Story of Genius, Madness, and an Extraordinary Quest for a Lost World

3.67  ·  Rating Details ·  144 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
The Untold Story of One Man's Quest for a Lost World

In 1679, Renaissance man Olof Rudbeck stunned the world. He proposed that an ancient lost civilization once thrived in the far north of his native Sweden: the fabled Atlantis. Rudbeck would spend the last thirty years of his life hunting for the evidence that would prove this extraordinary theory.

Chasing down clues to tha
Paperback, 320 pages
Published July 25th 2006 by Broadway Books (first published 2005)
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Madhulika Liddle
Sep 23, 2016 Madhulika Liddle rated it it was amazing
Olaf Rudbeck (1630-1702) recalled to my mind, when I first saw the name of the subject of this biography, the plant genus Rudbeckia. A botanist, yes (and, as I discovered in the course of this book, the man who laid out Sweden’s first botanical gardens, at Uppsala), but what did Rudbeck have to do with the mythical land of Atlantis, supposedly a haven of utopian beauty, harmony, peace and wisdom that vanished, sunk beneath a deluge of gargantuan proportions?

A lot, as it turns out. David King, i
Mar 08, 2009 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I was astonished by how much I enjoyed this book, which I devoured in a single day. Olof Rudbeck was the discoverer of the lymph system, a keen astronomer, a composer, a singer, an instrumentalist, a top-flight architect -- in short, a sort of paradigm for Renaissance Man (the plant genus Rudbeckia was named in honour of him and his son, another Olof) -- yet he devoted most of his life to an attempt to prove first that Sweden was the land of the Hyperboreans and then that Atlantis was in fact Sw
Oct 27, 2011 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
FINDING ATLANTIS: A True Story of Genius, Madness, and an Extraordinary Quest for a Lost World. (2005). David King. ****.
I think that long titles are on their way back, but still have a long way to go. For example, the full title of the book published by the hero of this work, Olof Rudbeck, is given on pp. 204 and 205, and runs to half the printed page. Titles aside, I found this to be a fascinating history of Rudbeck, a professor at the University of Uppsala. He devoted his life to exploring t
Aug 24, 2015 Absinthe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Probably one of the best biographies I have ever had the pleasure to read, Finding Atlantis sparks many creative ideas and at the very least inspires intellectuals to pursue knowledge. Regardless of the truth of Rudbeck's ideas, his unquenchable lust for history and joy of learning truly made me admire him. Though I'm sure King did everything he could to make the reader sympathize with Rudbeck, it still seems like a wonderful tribute to a noble intellectual who stands mostly forgotten in the ann ...more
Bill Wallace
Nov 26, 2015 Bill Wallace rated it really liked it
A wonderful story of genius gone to strange seed. Olof Rudbeck was a 17th Century Swedish polymath, the first person to describe the lymphatic system, a botanist of renown, and one of the greatest minds of the ascendant Swedish empire in the decades following the 30 Years War. Driven by nationalist impulses, the quest for royal favor, and a mania for tying Sweden's history to Greek and Roman classical traditions, Rudbeck published massive works -- acclaimed in their day -- locating Hades, Atlant ...more
John Bruni
Dec 29, 2015 John Bruni rated it really liked it
This is an utterly fascinating read about a madman/genius. Rudbeck came up with a great theory as to why a part of Sweden is actually the nation of Atlantis from way back when. I don't buy it, and I don't think the author buys it, either, but it's a lot of fun, and there are a lot of coincidences. I like Rudbeck's enthusiastic reasoning. He's all in on this thing. This is coming from a dude who discovered lymph nodes and created a method of dating artifacts and monuments that is still used today ...more
Christopher Merkley
Oct 21, 2011 Christopher Merkley rated it it was amazing
I found this to be a gripping, fantastic read. King did an exceptional job of presenting Olaf in a fair light, both genius and mad obsessive. The idea that history is only one way, and everything we know today is correct is absurd and this is an interesting exploration of that dynamic. Whether you agree or not with the conclusions is not the point, the point is it gets you thinking and open to other ideas. And King gives you a great ride along the way.
Nov 17, 2009 Kelly marked it as to-read
This guy wrote one of my favorite history books ever (Vienna: 1814 <-- plugging it for any history dorks interested), and this looks great. On the to-read list it goes!
Oct 25, 2009 Justwinter rated it it was ok
A fascinating read about a fascinating man who passionately believed that Sweden was the location for the lost city of Atlantis. I'd have rated it higher but for the fact that the author meanders into many side-notes, spiraling away from the main theme just enough that it becomes tangential.

That all of the information is interesting and/or presents the reader with gripping historical events and personalities is beyond doubt. It is a book packed with information. But I feel closer editing may ha
Denise Louise
Mar 15, 2015 Denise Louise rated it it was ok
An interesting book about Rudbeck and his life. The author points out how Rudbeck got carried away with his theories about Sweden being the home of Atlantis and source of Greek mythology, but he didn't give many details on how Rudbeck went so astray. Nor did the author include the current interpretations of the "evidence" that Rudbeck relied on for his ideas. So I felt the book was rather incomplete and left me hanging.
Dec 02, 2014 Jen rated it liked it
This book gave me such an unsettled feeling. It failed to take a stance on whether Atlantis could have been in Sweden or if this guy was just truly wrong and why he could lead himself so far astray. However, it was enlightening to read about Sweden, a country of which I know almost nothing.
May 14, 2012 Kingpin543 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a biography of Olof Rudbeck, a 17th century Swedish medical doctor, architect, professor, musician -- in short, a polymath -- who propounded the theory that Sweden was the site of the ancient kingdom of Atlantis, as well as the land of the Hyperboreans of Greek mythology. Whereas the book seems to assume that the theory is wrong, it sounds plausible to me, and I'd like to know more about it.

Rudbeck himself was a very interesting character, and this book is very readable. But I wish there
Dec 05, 2015 Marla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: personal-library
My new favorite Atlantis theory. I loved the crazy logic Olof Rudbeck used to fit the Atlantis myth to Sweden. It's a shame he got swept up by the Atlantis story, who knows what he could have accomplished otherwise.
Levent Mollamustafaoglu
This book describes a very interesting era in Sweden's history and the determination of an individual to discover teh secrets beyond Atlantis. Although a scholarly title, it has been written like a mystery novel, and one can read it without gettng bogged down in academic details.
Mar 16, 2014 David rated it really liked it
Alright, raise your hand if you knew an eminent scholar from 17th century Sweden found evidence that Atlantis was actually in Sweden!
Although this guy is clearly crazy, the book makes it almost easy to understand his insane thought process. Very interesting.
Oct 20, 2007 Anna rated it liked it
This book was an easy and pleasant read-good vacation reading. The author painted a vivid picture of Rudbeck and his difficulties with certain professors at Uppsala University, but he covered a large amount of time in just a few pages. I was left wanting to more about this seemingly remarkable man and his accomplishments. I did feel the book's subtitle "A True Story of Genius, Madness, and an Extraordinary Quest for a Lost World" was a little sensational. Rudbeck theories may seem "crazy" today, ...more
Jun 23, 2008 Melissa rated it it was ok
Shelves: historicizing
I took this book on an eight hour train ride, and it certainly got me through the first hour or two, but I found myself losing interest as King focused more and more on the politics at Uppsala University. Granted, these weren't irrelevant, as Olof Rudbeck's disagreements with his fellow professors made it increasingly more difficult for him to conduct his research and to publish his findings, but I can't say I found it terribly fascinating.

I did, however, learn a fair amount about Swedish histo
Jun 18, 2011 Ian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I must admit, I didn't expect this book to be as amazing as it was. I only bought it because it was a bargain book. But the flowing prose and the moving story enthralled me. Though Finding Atlantis is a non-fiction title, it provides no "practical" knowledge. But it reaffirms my fundamental convictions about life on this earth and man's limitless potential. To me, this is art.
A fun book. Weak on the philosophical (and particularly the theological) background of the intellectual disputes in 17th century Uppsala, but it's nice to see this topic covered at all, and the writer has a fine style and lightly ironic tone that makes it easy to read.
I picked up this book at the library because of the tagline. I really wanted it to be more about how he came to have these theories (instead of the repercussions his theories had on his life and career) but it was still an interesting and eccentric read
Joel Lantz
Aug 19, 2012 Joel Lantz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book took a while getting into the actual meat of the Atlantis theory, but once it did, it really took off. You get a good view into the obsession this man had for proving Sweden as more or less the cradle of classical mythology.
Jessica Howard
Jan 16, 2008 Jessica Howard rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Not as entertaining as I'd hoped given the title. Also, very speculative about what Olof Rudbeck was thinking--I'd prefer more fact and less speculation. But I did learn more about Swedish culture/society than I knew before...
Aug 15, 2012 Pam marked it as gave-up-on
Shelves: history
I just could not get into this book, though I felt the subject was interesting. The writing didn't seem to hold my attention.
Nov 20, 2012 Elizabeth rated it it was ok
Loved "Darkness in the City of Light", but this was a little dry for my taste. I learned a lot, but it dragged on and on.
Aug 04, 2012 Butterflykatana rated it it was amazing
This book was passed to me and it was a great fit I loved it. What man and visionary.
Noran Miss Pumkin
Listing my bargain amazon books-10 for $25 total!
Nov 20, 2009 Laura marked it as to-read
Sounds intriguing.
Brandon is currently reading it
Sep 26, 2016
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David King is the author of "Finding Atlantis", "Vienna 1814", and, most recently, "Death in the City of Light".
A Fulbright Scholar with a master's degree from Cambridge University, King taught European history at the University of Kentucky before becoming a full-time writer.
More about David King...

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