Erich von Daniken has been a thorn in the side of archaeologists and historians since the publication of his first book, Chariots of the Gods, in the 1960s. His interpretation of religious texts and mysterious artifacts encouraged a worldwide audience to consider the possibility that extraterrestrials not only visited Earth but left behind overwhelming evidence of their interaction with human beings. This has caused immense and ongoing anguish for Ďseriousí scientists whose theories are not nearly so intriguing, largely because those scientists are unable to produce explanations that are any more believable than von Danikenís bolder ones.
Since that first bombshell of a book, von Daniken has written dozens more. His latest, Twilight of the Gods, continues to build upon the Ďancient astronautí theory, this time exploring the connection between space travelers and the host topic of today Ė the Mayan calendar. By this time, almost everyone has heard something about the prediction that an ancient calendar devised by the Mayans covers tens of thousands of years and seems to point to December 21, 2012, as The End of Something. Itís no surprise that von Daniken expects extraterrestrials to be involved.
In Twilight of the Gods, as in many of his earlier works, von Daniken reminds readers that he believes in the Christian god and that the existence of intelligent beings from outside our galaxy doesnít present a conflict for him. When von Daniken reads the Bible, he pays attention; instead of accepting that every unusual occurrence is a miracle beyond human understanding, von Daniken relentlessly pursues specific answers. For example, when confronted with Ezekielísí description of a flying vehicle that transports the Lord, von Daniken and Captain Kirk have the same reaction: what does God need with a space ship? From these questions, von Daniken speculates about possibilities, mostly involving the previously and frequently mentioned spacemen.
After all these years and books, von Daniken has covered just about every historical artifact, location and text, so much of the information in Twilight of the Gods will be familiar to von Danikenís loyal readers. Cargo cults, Egyptian hieroglyphs, biblical tales, and Nazca Lines are all clear evidence, according to von Daniken, that extraterrestrials played a significant role in the development of human culture and technology.
The authorís passion for his subject bursts through the limits of the printed word. Readers canít help but get caught up in von Danikenís enthusiasm and wildly outgoing personality. Von Daniken himself often gets so carried away that he throws out intriguing theories but forgets to connect the dots, leaving readers adrift in the vast ocean of conjecture. This time around, the book fails to deliver on its promise to tie an ancient stone calendar to either the anticipated world change due in 2012 or to the intervention of outside forces. In fact, Twilight of the Gods merely brushes the surface of that riddle and instead recaps numerous other archaeological mysteries mentioned in earlier books.
As much as I enjoy Erich von Danikenís books and theories, I canít recommend Twilight of the Gods to anyone other than the diehard follower. For all others, I suggest that you go to the original Chariots of the Gods for an entertaining and thought-provoking von Daniken experience.