I have to agree with another reviewer here. This book is desperate for a new editor. Far too much information is listed in an "appendix" format, while the bulk of the theories presented come across confusing and disjointed.
However, the scholarship is top notch. This is one of those works which was scoffed at for years until being accepted as "common knowledge" today. The basic premise involves the transmission through ancient myths of astronomical knowledge. The fascinating thing is that this astronomical knowledge is spread all over the world through hundreds of cultures. A full understanding of the workings of Precession of the Equinoxes is the main focus here, which is incredible when you consider that the precessional cycle covers a period of approximately 25725 years. The calculations necessary to chart precession should be nearly impossible for ancient people to accomplish, particularly since we've been told for years that they were barely able to feed themselves, much less have the time or patience to develop such an exacting observational science.
The symbolism of myth is a direct correlation with the movements of the stars and planets, as well as a description of the workings of the Earth's wobbly axis, according to the authors. After reading this work, one line of questioning always comes to mind: How is it that peoples separated by thousands of miles and an equal number of languages always seem to refer to astronomical pheonomena by the SAME names? The Zodiac constellations are represented by the same animals the world over... how is this possible? The constellations certainly don't look like much to the casual observer or even those who were more-than-casual. How did the ancients reach the same observations if they had no contact with each other? The book doesn't answer this question, but it stares every reader in the face.
The theory here is very satisfying to those who refuse to believe that ancient peoples were nothing more than savages. The scholarship is superior to most of the "alternative" historical works currently in print as well.
The ideas rate 5 stars, but because of the jumbled delivery I am forced to remove a star. This is not light reading; be prepared to work hard to capture the ides presented. It's worth it.
This book is regarded highly by Graham Hancock and that is why I laid my hands on it. It is tough going and the language used was not simple. A second reading was essential in order to comprehend at least 50% of what it was saying.
Credit to Santillan and Dechend for proposing such a wonderful theory, especially in explaining the role of precession in many mythologies. However, to subject all mythologies to only cosmological observation is not correct. This is the same trap that Alan Alford and Daniken fell into. Alford tried to explain all myths using his meteorite hypothesis in his books The Phoenix Solution and When the Gods Came Down while Daniken tried to explain everything using alien visitation.
In this book, the explanation for the Great Deluge was simply brushed aside by claiming it to be a metaphorical drowning of the "earth". If one reads the works of Ian Wilson, Stephen Oppenheimer and others on this subject, one cannot help but conclude that the Flood was a real earthly event.
I believe there is some truth in Santillana and Dechend's conclusions but to ascribe all myths to the observed interplay of cosmological lights seem to be overstretching a good hypothesis.
For a more balanced view, I would strongly recommend the books of Zacharia Sitchin, Colin Wilson and Graham Phillips.
Normally I owuld give 5 stars to the books I review but one star is taken away for its extremely difficult to understand style of writing.