Giza: the truth. Some might say it's an oxymoron. Chris Ogilvie-Herald and Ian Lawton obviously don't believe so, and have set out here to put the record straight on the enigmatic Giza Plateau. As one of the most ancient, and controversial, places on Earth, one would expect a weighty tome. And GIZA: THE TRUTH (available from Amazon US and UK) certainly is, clocking in at over five hundred pages. The question is - is it going to test your bookcase, or is it going to hold your door in place?
The authors have divided the work into three separate parts. Part I provides the essential background information on the Giza Plateau - the history, as well as theories and stories concerning this mysterious site. Straight away something different is evident about this book - it covers both the 'alternative' and 'scholarly' viewpoints, without the complication of shoehorning them into a certain theory. Instead, the reader is left to explore the story of the plateau in relative peace. Although this does make for slightly dry reading (without the usual fireworks one has come to expect in 'Giza' books), I found this part of the book to be absolutely fascinating and digested it in hearty gulps. Ogilvie-Herald and Lawton have uncovered many interesting facts and stories that until now had evaded the pens of other authors, and which are essential reading for any fan of Giza.
Once the reader has digested this material on the Plateau, the book moves on to the second part. In this section, the authors document the explorations of the site in the last thirty years and the theories that have been posited - the hunts for 'secret chambers', the controversy over the age of the Sphinx, and the Orion correlation theory. Again, there is a great deal of fascinating material presented here, with myths exposed and little known explorations put under the microscope. Unfortunately, it is in this section of the book where I feel the authors start to work from their own bias. Despite the 'truth' in the title, it soon becomes obvious that this is a subjective work. The authors have studied and absorbed the works concerning Giza, and are not afraid to pass judgement on some of the theories. This is not necessarily a bad thing - they do provide plenty of information for you to come to your own conclusions. But the focus of their criticism does seem to be on 'alternative' theorists, to the exclusion of other notables. More on this soon though.
Part III of GIZA: THE TRUTH narrows the discussion to the explorations and controversies of the last ten years (the Nineties) - more specifically, the hunt for the so-called 'Hall of Records'. The authors examine many of the rumours that have abounded, and in most cases dish out exactly is what deserved. They also cover the personalities and politics that have become such an integral part of the story as we all know it. It is in this aspect, as mentioned above, where I feel the book falters in its attempt at thoroughly documenting the happenings at Giza. The focus seems to be well and truly on 'alternative' theorists, while other notable personalities involved at the Plateau escape with little criticism. Ogilvie-Herald and Lawton mention in the introduction: "Where such egos appear to take themselves a little too seriously...we will take sharp aim and let the arrows fly!". Strangely enough though, perhaps the greatest ego of them all (and intrinsically part of the Giza Plateau), Dr Zahi Hawass, barely gets a mention. Instead the focus is often on authors Robert Bauval and Graham Hancock. While these authors may deserve their fair share of criticism (surely to be expected in any 'alternative' genre), balance is the key. In a similar way, the continued secretive explorations at Giza by Joseph Schor and acquaintances do not come under fire - instead they are basically lauded as 'nice guys'. Such an approach may prompt the reader to wonder what agenda the authors have - which is unfortunate considering it is only one of a few flaws in what is basically an excellent work.
Overall, I would recommend that anybody interested in the Giza Plateau should take a look at GIZA: THE TRUTH. The criticism I have levelled at the book does not detract from the fact that it is an excellent reference work to have handy at all times, told in a well set out and highly readable manner. It must be noted that this review is of the first edition of GIZA: THE TRUTH - there is now an updated paperback which no doubt has many amendments. One of the more laudable actions of the authors has been to listen to criticism (for example, on the internet) and look at incorporating their reaction to it in the updated version. This demonstrates Ogilvie-Herald and Lawton's desire to present a balanced view. To address any concerns about 'biased reporting', I would recommend a double purchase - GIZA: THE TRUTH and Robert Bauval's recent SECRET CHAMBER...a companion volume and counter-balance wrapped in the one package (at least regarding aspects of Part II and III of G:TT). The story of the Giza Plateau is a fascinating subject, and worthy of even more in depth works. GIZA: THE TRUTH takes its place as a piece of this puzzle - a thoroughly enjoyable read, whether you agree with the authors or not. Certainly a worthwhile addition to your bookshelf - just make sure it's a strong one.
GIZA: THE TRUTH by Chris Ogilvie-Herald and Ian Lawton is available from Amazon US and UK