Nicholas's Reviews > Underworld: The Mysterious Origins of Civilization

Underworld by Graham Hancock
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's review
May 24, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: esoterica, nonfiction-history, speculative, archaeology, alternative-history-nonfiction

In essence this book was Graham Hancock's sequel to Fingerprints of the Gods and in other ways, it's an appendix to that book. In Fingerprints, Graham lays out his fundamental theory: that human civilization is far older than we think, and there existed a world spanning, Ice Age civilization, which was destroyed in an world wide cataclysm, which only left clue to its previous existence. It is a tall order for a journalist, with no background in archaeology to go forth and prove, and while Fingerprints is an erstwhile attempt with an intriguing theory, it lacked a major important element: good solid evidence. It's not that he failed to provide to any evidence in Fingerprints, there were many ideas presented, but a lot of it was simply conjecture. But in Underworld: The Mysterious Origins of Civilization, Mr. Hancock presents a far more compelling physical argument for his original thesis, backing up his original concept with field research and real world observations. The book is far less Indiana Jones than Fingerprints, but let's face it, Indiana Jones was not a very good archaeologist. He damaged sites, and often failed to document his finds correctly. Because of that, the book is a tad drier than Fingerprints, yet only because there is more research and evidence being presented, yet there are still moments of excitement and danger, as the author travels around the world, diving in fast changing currents to examine structures that may or may not be man made, up close, with an untrained, but experienced eye.

Often in dealing with esoteric and speculative books, I use the phrase "won't change a skeptical mind" but honestly, Underworld could change an open, skeptical mind, especially when his early first decade finds are coupled with other discoveries that are coming out on a regular basis, suggesting that prehistoric human civilization is far older and more complex than previously thought. Often, while reading the book, nothing becomes more evident that the many dismissals of Mr. Hancock's theories and research are not engaged in the research at all, stating that the evidence contrary to their standard evidence is wrong because it is contrary to the standard evidence, even if the evidence is equally as weak. Mr. Hancock offers several examples of this academic laziness, while never accusing anyone of outright conspiracy, he does expose a conspiracy of willful ignorance, where even serious scientists simply wave their hands and say, "that's just a rock" having never gone and looked at the site up close. Mr. Hancock goes out of his way to invite a skeptical geologist to an controversial underwater site off the coast of Japan. In the end, he doesn't convince him that the site is man made, but you can definitely see the man's mind being challenged, as the argument unfolds real time throughout the book. The book is not only an interesting read on a controversial subject, it actually is science, that is, science as a method of inquiry, taking place throughout the book, as well as speculation.

Read this book if you've read "Fingerprints of the Gods" and were intrigued by the ideas in his book. There are moments where you think you're slogging through it, but if that was never happening, that would only mean Mr. Hancock was not presenting worthy evidence. Also, he continues on with his habit of asking questions to tell you thing, which sometimes is a bit tabloid, but he does this a lot less in Underworld than he did in Fingerprints. Outside those two complaints, the book represents one of his best work so far.
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Reading Progress

May 24, 2010 – Shelved
November 3, 2011 – Started Reading
December 11, 2011 –
page 274
January 7, 2012 –
page 470
January 26, 2012 – Shelved as: esoterica
January 26, 2012 – Shelved as: nonfiction-history
January 26, 2012 – Shelved as: speculative
January 26, 2012 – Shelved as: archaeology
January 26, 2012 – Shelved as: alternative-history-nonfiction
January 26, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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message 1: by Eliezer (new) - added it

Eliezer Oh man. I didn't know there was a sequel

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