Brandon, late Professor of Comparative Religion at the University of Manchester, proposes to deal with the iconographic rather than sacred literary record as primary evidence of man's beliefs. Ritual action is defined as an instinctive mimetic act practiced by primitive peoples to achieve a desired end. Similarly, image-making was believed to have a magical potency that reinforced and perpetrated ritual in an ""eternal present."" Brandon's thesis traces the evolution of man's conception of his nature and destiny from the Paleolithic to the Christian era, with a strong emphasis on Near Eastern and Egyptian cults. (Oriental theology is given short shrift and entirely subsumed into this Western-dominated study.) He concludes that all historic religions were shaped by the fundamental issues of death, birth and the food supply, with the latter theme less important as technology advanced. Discussion of the iconography and significance of the tomb is extensive. Less evidence on the fertility/maternity theme exists, and here, briefly, Brandon raises intriguing questions. An intelligent synthesis of disciplines that should provoke more definitive research.