A plausible and provocative hypothesis on how methods of memorization may have laid the groundwork for many mysterious...



A thought-provoking theory on “memory palaces” and their significance to ancient ancestral civilizations.

Science writer Kelly’s (Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies, 2015) thorough, fascinating examination of indigenous cultures of Australia and New Zealand led her to a new anthropological philosophy on how Stonehenge and other prehistoric monuments were built and their shared purpose. Throughout her doctorate studies, the author invested increasing amounts of time studying the knowledge patterns of primitive, nonliterate societies and the ways in which orality made shared knowledge memorable and applicable. Though widely considered to be intellectually inferior, indigenous cultures like the aborigines of Australia, among many others, developed complex exchanges of encyclopedic knowledge through methods of memory and repetition, perfected over centuries of practice and adaptation. Kelly believes these place-associative memorization systems, whether patterned through songs, dance, mythological stories, stars, landscape, or handheld totems, were instrumental in generating the knowledge necessary to construct what have become some of the world’s most mystifying architectural wonders. Deepening her research, the author applied these mnemonic techniques to her own life, experimenting with local landscapes and honing personal memory skills with representational imagery; she used activities as simple as a walk with her dog to illustrate and apply this ancient technique. Most interestingly, Kelly then applies this theory to the ancient monuments that have confounded and fascinated mankind for centuries. These include Stonehenge, which the author brilliantly and painstakingly analyzes in time period stages, the extraordinary monolithic moai of Easter Island, the expansive geoglyphs in the southern Peruvian desert, and the stone rows and circles of Neolithic France and Britain. Kelly believes all of these were constructed as memory aids to ancient elders, and she generously addresses each location with cleareyed, occasionally dense, yet absorbing prose while drawing important attention to a radical new idea about the real purpose of these historic marvels.

A plausible and provocative hypothesis on how methods of memorization may have laid the groundwork for many mysterious extant monuments.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68177-325-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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