Sometimes it just takes a little time for the truth behind a good urban legend or cultural myth to come out. But can we ever really be sure that there's not a Bigfoot roaming the woods or that there isn't some bizarrre portal floating around the Bermuda Triangle? Today we're looking at a couple of books from folks who think they've figured out the real events behind some historical mysteries that have spawned countless books and movies.
Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base by Annie Jacobsen
When you think of Area 51, what do you think of first? If the answer is aliens, then you may be disappointed that there are very few aliens in this book. Instead we have the history of a top secret base that features in tales of espionage, supersonic spy planes, nuclear bombs, and other sorts of Cold War intrigue. But if you're interested in flying saucers and little men with great big eyes, don't fret. There's some information on UFOs here too. Unfortunately, the conspiracy in this theory is probably not the conspiracy you were expecting. The author gathered together much of the public information about Area 51, talking to some of the people who claim to be in the know and using Freedom of Information requests to glean what she could from government records. I didn't expect to be thrilled with the subject matter, and in truth it can be a little dry at times, but all the talk of supersonic speed and dangerous missions kept it interesting. (Fun fact: Did you know that if you go high enough in the atmosphere you might run into a lot of black specks? Those specks are insects orbiting the Earth after being blown sky-high during tests of nuclear bombs.)
The Lost Empire of Atlantis: History's Greatest Mystery Revealed by Gavin Menzies
There are lots of theories about the island called Atlantis, and every once in a while someone finds something on the bottom of the ocean that they claim might be the lost civilization. Therefore, the interesting part of this book isn't the theory that the ancient Minoans from the islands of Crete and Santorini were the source of the culture known as Atlantis. It's that Menzies believes these Minoans were early world travelers, creating a global economy long before people were thought to sail across the ocean. 3,000 years before, in fact. The most surprising claim is that Minoans traveled to the Great Lakes region of North America to mine copper, sailing up and down the mighty Mississippi to do it. Menzies travels the world, from the markets of Beirut to dried up ports in Egypt, searching for clues. He finds artifacts all over the planet that he believes come from the ancient Minoans. He also argues that the Minoans created stone circles, such as Stonehenge and other similar creations around the world. If he's right, then we should be re-writing history books. The book comes with plenty of photographic evidence so you can come to your own conclusions.
Review by Danny Hanbery