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The Oracle: Ancient Delphi and the Science Behind Its Lost Secrets (Anglais) Broché – 30 janvier 2007

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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

Enlightening and compelling . . . Drawing on everything from Plutarch to petroleum research, [Broad] ‘decrypts’ a fascinating story. (The Dallas Morning News)

An absorbing historical tale. (Entertainment Weekly)

Présentation de l'éditeur

A gripping modern-day detective story about the scientific quest to understand the Oracle of Delphi

Like Walking the Bible, this fascinating book turns a modern eye on an enduring legend. The Oracle of Delphi was one of the most influential figures in ancient Greece. Human mistress of the god Apollo, she had the power to enter into ecstatic communion with him and deliver his prophesies to men. Thousands of years later, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist William J. Broad follows a crew of enterprising researchers as they sift through the evidence of history, geology, and archaeology to reveal—as far as science is able—the source of her visions.

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Dans ce livre (En savoir plus)
Première phrase
WE know little of how the ancient Greeks viewed aspects of their world, even ones that seem important to us. Lire la première page
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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index | Quatrième de couverture
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 34 commentaires
51 internautes sur 55 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Revision at Delphi 16 février 2006
Par Kevin Killian - Publié sur
Format: Relié
I had no idea there was any scientific basis for believing in the existence of a Delphi oracle until I picked up a review copy of William Broad's real life thrilled THE ORACLE. In highly serviceable prose, Broad does two things at once: he sketches in a history of Greece both ancient and modern, and also he brings up up to date on recent scholarship and archaelogical findings concerning this holy (?) site.

It is said that when Apollo visited the inner chambers of Delphi that visitors nearby would sense the lingering aromas of his distinctive, unearthly perfume! It is this sort of memorable detail that makes Broad's writing so delightful. It almost had me believing in gods, a feeling I haven't had since I was small watching Harry Hamlin and Lawrence Olivier duke it out in Harryhausen's CLASH OF THE TITANS. I eat this stuff up, but as I say, this book makes the stone carved figures of Mount Olympus come alive in a very real way. They might almost be flesh and blood.

Broad also excels at explaining how politics have obscured and occluded the progress of scientific analysis at least since the romantic age of Byron and Shelley. When the West became involved in Grecian affairs, it was almost always with the idea of empire in mind, thus for example the Elgin Marbles being carted off to London like so many trophies of war. But on the other hand some serious scholars with admittedly sketchy and unrpoven theories about the rise and fall of the Oracle were on the brink of a major discovery, if only they could surmount the bureaucracy of the stubborn French controllers of research.

Jelle De Boer (I know, what a name!) emerges as the hero of the tale, with his intuitive notions that the Apollonian messages might have emerged from beyond the "adyton" through a gas which perhaps altered consciousness. Little by little he got people to believe in him. Basically they said, "Give the kid a chance," and voila! His hypothesis involved a study of the shifting planes which broke up the landmass of Eurasia, and the creation of the Gulf of Corinth. Another young man helped him process his ideas, translating his sometimes awkwatd Dutch into colloquial English. If you liked THE DA VINCI CODE this is the real life equivalent, a book of derring do and a pair of scientific heroes like Indiana Jones who are incomparably larger than life. You may not have heard of "ethylene" before this book but once you pick up THE ORACLE, you will feel as though one of the secrets of life itself has been made a gift to you. Look over your shoulder, Apollo may be whispering your name.
14 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A Book with Everything! 13 mars 2006
Par G. Poirier - Publié sur
Format: Relié
This book has it all: ancient history, archaeology, science, mystery, intrigue and adventure. As is implied by the title, the book's focus is on the Oracle of Delphi, as seen from both ancient and modern perspectives. The main theme centers on whether the ancient Oracle was exposed to hallucinogenic gases while providing prophetic council, or whether all this was, perhaps, just an act. The author does a wonderful job in weaving the history of the Oracle, its excavation of about a century ago, recent investigations and the lives of the individual scientists forming part of the multidisciplinary team performing the work. Written in a most engaging style, this book is difficult to put down. On the odd side, two sections of the book stand out as being rather different from the rest of it; these are (part of) the prologue and the entire last chapter. These contain discussions on such topics as metaphysical philosophy and the uses and misuses of reductionism in science - topics which, although possibly related to the apparent clairvoyance of the Oracle, contrast sharply with the meticulous fact gathering and the careful well-grounded science presented in the main body of the book. This can be a plus or a minus, depending on your point of view. Either way, this book is a clear winner that is likely to be of interest to just about everyone.
7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
This is a terrific book! 18 avril 2006
Par Hubert Herring - Publié sur
Format: Relié
When I heard about this book, the topic -- an exploration of whether the Oracle of Delphi got high from gases bubbling up from underground faults -- immediately intrigued me. And since it was written by William Broad, a top New York Times science writer, I knew it would be well done. But I did not fully expect such a fascinating tale -- and such beautiful writing. There was just enough history of the oracle to make clear her huge role in Greek history (on a word from one of a series of female oracles, spanning centuries, wars were fought, or not fought) and thus make clear why we should care -- but not too much history. There was just enough science -- but not too much to scare off the layman. And the two-decade detective story -- in which a determined geologist and an archeologist follow clues about the source of the oracle's behavior, and perhaps her powers -- is told with a lively, compelling sense of drama. (Who ever thought a book on geology could be a page-turner?) And for the third act, Mr. Broad took the substantial risk of having it seem, to the casual reader, that the whole pursuit was meaningless in the end -- but then weathered that risk with a fascinating and thought-provoking take on the role, and limits, of science.
6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Sciences and seances seamlessly solidified... 27 mars 2006
Par William E. Adams - Publié sur
Format: Relié
What a great book! In 300 pages, requiring thoughtful reading, William Broad covers a great deal of data in the following fields: the history of Greek civilization, religion and philosophy; plate tectonics and volcanism; psychic phenomena;archeology;inhaled gases as intoxicants;rivalries between branches of the sciences and disputes among the philosophers of science. I have a casual interest in all the above, so the volume was fascinating for me. All I really knew about the famous Oracle of Delphi was that it was a place where female psychics gave advice. I did not know that the Oracle was in existence for 12 centuries, including the first three after the birth of Christ. I did not know how it came into existence, and why it disappeared, or how it worked, or the kinds of advice dispensed. Neither did I know who rediscovered the shrine and when, and how those archaeologists failed to confirm an essential historical claim for the Oracle, and were proven to be in error about that a century later. If any of these trains of thought entice you to take this journey, go get this book.
10 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
What a delightful book! 27 mai 2006
Par Michael Booker - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
William Broad has written an absolutely delightful book that will fascinate anyone with any interest in the Ancient Greeks. There are many tools (a timeline and a glossary) for people who don't know much about the subject, but there's also a great deal of excellent material for folks who have been studying this subject for years.

What Broad proves is that the ancient accounts of the shrine at Delphi need to taken seriously...not because Apollo really resided there, but because an important natural phenomenon gave a select group of women the opportunity to teach ethics, guide kings, and even free some slaves.

I was able to visit Delphi a decade ago and I can assure you that the guide painted a truly depressing picture about the most important shrine in all of Greece. The old account was that crazy old women were compelled to utter gibberish and then a group of male priests would say whatever they felt like. This was something the Greeks took seriously?

The book is well-written and filled with details that make for an engaging narrative.
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