Finding Atlantis : A True Story of Genius, Madness, and an Extraordinary Quest for a Lost World
The untold story of a fascinating Renaissance man on an adventurous hunt for a lost civilization-an epic quest through castles, courts, mythologies, and the spectacular world of the imagination. What do Zeus, Apollo, and the gods of Mount Olympus have in common with Odin, Thor, and the gods of Valhalla What do these, in turn, have to do with the shades of Hades, the pharaohs of Egypt, and the glories of fabled Atlantis In 1679, Olof Rudbeck stunned the world with the answer: They could all be traced to an ancient lost civilization that once thrived in the far north of Rudbeck's native Sweden. He would spend the last thirty years of his life hunting for the evidence that would prove this extraordinary theory. Chasing down clues to that lost golden age, Rudbeck combined the reasoning of Sherlock Holmes with the daring of Indiana Jones. He excavated what he thought was the acropolis of Atlantis, retraced the journeys of classical heroes, opened countless burial mounds, and consulted rich collections of manuscripts and artifacts.
Few lives are as sadly instructive as that of the dreamer who, by reaching for the stars, falls crashing to earth. Such is the tale of a 17th-century Swedish polymath and gifted eccentric, Olof Rudbeck. Univeristy of Kentucky historian King relates how Rudbeck, trained in his youth as physician (he discovered the lymphatic glands), mastered fields as diverse as architecture, botany, shipbuilding, etymology, musical composition and mythology, among others. It was an ancient Norse saga that set him on the path to what he believed would lead to his greatest triumph. Enchanted by circumstantial evidence and supported by his own breathtakingly inventive archeological and etymological research, Rudbeck in 1679 astonished his Uppsala University colleagues with the announcement that he had discovered Atlantis-in Old Uppsala. Fiercely disputatious and uncompromising when it came to his own genius, Rudbeck had previously poisonously offended many influential colleagues; his work was ridiculed and he died in obscurity. King is marvelous at elaborating Rudbeck's theories and his heroic defense against charges of forgery and "foul-ugly fraud." One wishes, however, that King had dealt definitely with the forgery charges. His trust in his own subject despite the evidence is honorable but perhaps misplaced. Still, King tells his tale with the pace and appeal of a classic whodunit. 20 b&w illus. Agent, Suzanne Gluck. (June 14) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
July 24, 2006
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from Finding Atlantis by David King
Chapter 1: Promises
My dear fellow, life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. ?Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles
Some fifty years before the great fire, Olof Rudbeck had arrived as a young student at Uppsala University. This was in the cold and dark winter of 1648, just in time for the enthusiastic celebrations that would soon erupt on the Continent, marking the signing of the Peace of Westphalia and an end, it was hoped, to thirty years of the most vicious fighting that Europe had ever known. War, famine, plague, and plunder had decimated the populations, spreading misery everywhere the armies marched. Now the clang of church bells and the clatter of court banquets might replace the roar of cannon and the cries of suffering. Musketeers fired joyous salvoes into the air, and soaring bonfires were lit to commemorate the news. The festivities were especially lively in Sweden, already ?drunk with victory and bloated with booty.?
Uppsala University was at this time the jewel in the crown of the Swedish kingdom. Although the university had fallen into disuse a few years after its establishment in 1477, the state had realized its enormous potential as a training ground for the new Protestant Reformation and reopened it with royal flair. Young people came from all corners of the realm to learn the theology and acquire the intellectual rigor required to enter the Church. The university also attracted the scions of the great aristocratic houses, sons of the landed and titled families who waged Sweden?s wars, administered the empire, and served the Crown in countless other capacities. King Gustavus Adolphus, the famed ?Lion of the North,? had envisioned just such a role for Uppsala University. He had endowed it with the means to realize it as well, even filling its empty bookshelves with many magnificent collections looted from an almost unbroken string of victories on the battlefield.