The Search for Atlantis: A History of Plato’s Ideal State

Steve P. Kershaw. Pegasus, $27.95 (428) ISBN 978-1-68177-859-4
This comprehensive debunking of the idea that Atlantis is an actual historical location by classicist Kershaw (A Brief Guide to the Greek Myths) begins with Plato, the sole ancient source of the Atlantis story, and continues to the 21st century. Kershaw sets up his history of the tale thoroughly, devoting several chapters to other mythical and semimythical geography, Plato’s historical context, and Plato’s life before giving readers his own translations of Plato’s relevant writings and sharing diagrams he’s made based on Plato’s intricate descriptions of the pseudoisland. He concludes that Atlantis only “existed in Plato’s imagination.” Between the introductory material and his conclusion, he examines key references to and theories about Atlantis: in a multivolume work in the late 1600s, Olof Rudbeck “discovered” that Atlantis was in Sweden; William Blake linked Atlantis with Albion or Britain. The theories of Jules Verne, Ignatius Donnelly, Madame Blavatsky, Edgar Cayce, Heinrich Himmler, and Erich von Daniken each get their mentions (and, in some cases, denouncements of their anti-intellectualism) before Kershaw gives more serious consideration to the idea that Crete or Santorini may have been the origin of the Atlantis story. This rigorous work won’t dissuade true believers, but readers interested in the classics will find this satisfying. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/15/2018
Release date: 10/02/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-1-64313-346-1
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