Review: Chariots of the Gods by Erich von Däniken

Chariots of the Gods is a book needing little introduction. The ideas introduced here launched author von Däniken to a certain degree of fame (and infamy) around the world. The concept of alien gods intervening in the early development of man would live on for decades in the numerous books, films, and documentaries that would follow.

Having been first published over four decades ago, there are parts of Chariots which have not aged well. Some bits are downright depressing: It turns out that not only did we fail to land on Mars by 1986, as was once a “certainty,” but we’ve seemingly given up the quest entirely. The writer’s optimism toward man’s progress, anchored in the early achievements of the space age, simply did not align with a future written by politicians and tax payers. That said, despite becoming dated, a discussion of technology was essentially unavoidable given the nature of the material.

If I have one fault to find with the writing, it would be that the author tends to dwell on the refusal of the scientific community to consider his proposals. He tells us, continuously, how historical dogma is accepted without questioning, and how we must not be closed minded to alternatives. It’s hard to fault the man, as he was essentially predicting (rather accurately) the shunning and dismissal his writing would receive in scientific circles. Still, as the reader, I’m already effectively committed as his audience, and I don’t find it entirely necessary to beat the poor horse quite so badly.

Ultimately I highly recommend this book. The key, I think, is to focus on the questions posed in the content, rather than the conclusions. It’s the questions which are fascinating, and it’s the questions which, more often than not, continue to stand the test of time. How did ancient civilizations query and transport boulders so massive they would challenge even modern machinery? For what purpose were giant structures and drawings that could only be viewed from space? Why did religions spanning the physical earth, and without regular contact with one another, share such similar stories of origin? How did ancient cartographers gain knowledge of seemingly “undiscovered” lands, and ancient astronomers of planets and galaxies only recently observed with modern optics?

It’s amazing how little we know about our own past. Whether or not one is able to buy in to the proposal of visitation by extraterrestrial intelligences being a plausible conclusion, any sufficiently curious person should be taken in by the mysteries which modern doctrine tends to gloss over.

Rating: 5/5

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