I just recently finished this book, and i can say it has been one of the most profound pieces of literature i've ever had the pleasure of reading. The topics explored in the book (which are, i might add, VERY extensively explored) ask the reader to look outside of the narrow field of spiritual and philosophical vision that constitutes our cultural typic, and question things one might not have ever thought of questioning. McKenna seems very frank and straightforward through the whole book, not dancing around subjects or refraining from certain phrases that some would be self-concious to use (ie. get loaded).
Instead of seeming to be written exclusively for futuristic scientists with an affinity for psychedelic drugs, the book seems to be aimed at the much wider crowd of anyone with an open mind and a vocabulary. The ideas described vary in topic from UFO abductions to a 15th century manuscript, and everything in between. most of the chapters have some common thread connecting them, the only exception being "The Voynich Manuscript." im not really sure where he was going with this chapter in relation to the rest of the book, but its interesting nonetheless. anyway, the book is nothing but a collection of speeches, essays, interviews, etc conducted by him over the years, and is really meant to be an introduction to his philosophy. His other books: The I Ching, and Food of the Gods, though i havent' read them, have been reviewed to be much more technically worded, hard to read, and aimed at students of mathematics and anthropology/ethnobotany. The Archaic Revival is more or less easy to comprehend, but he does use some terms over and over again that the average person wouldn't know (ie. phenomenology, entelechy, gnosis), so have a dictionary close by if you want to get the most out of the material as possible.
Terrence McKenna has some very bizzarre ideas for sure, and not everyone will relate to all of the ideas expressed in his writings, but i think that most ppl can find something about it they find interesting, and for the psychedelic crowd, McKenna's ideas sound like solaces from beyond, as he so easily verbalizes concepts that otherwise seem impossible to explain. His ideas of social reform and reverting to imitating plants as the role models of human life and civilzation, rather than animals, are so insane that they make more sense than anything i've ever heard. As far as his idea of the end of human history and the transcendence of physical existence into cyber-spiritual entities, all happening by the year 2012, i think he was a little off with the exact figures of time, as im writing this on Oct. 30, 2005 and it doesn't look like the world is going through a historical apocalypse in the next 6 yrs., but oh well--when you're dealing with the entirety of history, you can give or take a couple thousand years w/out compromising the legitimacy of your idea. plus, who knows, maybe on Jan. 1, 2012, we'll all be sitting around watching our bodies dissapear and our souls externalize.
I would reccommend this book to just about everyone, although i imagine it would be very hard for a 13 yr old to read, but im sure there are some very intelligent 13 yr olds out there who could comprehend it. for the open-minded, the book should be fascinating and engaging in its freshness, and for the rigid western thinkers--it should at least crack the shell and expose the possibilities of what's really out there. if anything, i'd say this is a book of non-denominational hope, derived and reported back from the past, and in McKenna's case--the future.