Writing a review of this book is like trying to untie the Gordian knot so, let me make my stroke here at the beginning: it is the work of a very twisted mind and should only be read with the actual data to hand so that every claim or assumption can be cross-checked with what is actually known or only conjectured. I have to say that after I read numerous totally outrageous assumptions that are directly contradicted by known paleontological facts, I was tempted to just toss the book aside. But I was motivated to read it because it figures large in a recent work of Colin Wilson’s which I had just finished and I was curious to see what was so compelling in this book that Wilson would be taken in by it since he is normally a very rational thinker.
Gooch does say quite a few things that a person searching for the Truth about our history and not satisfied with the obvious narrow-mindedness of mainstream scholarly research will readily agree with, and his style is certainly engaging; he romps through the topics. But there is value to academic research if you know how to handle it, and Gooch does not give much evidence of having delved all that deeply into the actual dirt and gravel reports – his bibliography is pretty slim pickin’s from the academic perspective and pretty heavily loaded with alternative viewpoints. That’s dangerous because many alternative writers, like journalists, not being experts in the field, very often misunderstand and misrepresent the data . I will agree with him that very often, mainstream academia has an agenda and isn’t very open-minded, but the same can be true for alternative research, deliberately or by default.
Gooch begins with the premise that Neanderthalers (in various editions around the planet, not strictly the classic Neanderthal type in Europe) were something of a noble savage that had “evolved a culture of the mind (a) not only of a very high order indeed (for as I often say, whereas we build cities of stone, Neanderthal built cities of dreams) but also (b) of a strangeness that is very had for us to imagine or, even having imagined, to come to terms with (since we have, after all, experience of only one kind of human mind – our own).”
Then, along came evil, un-creative, murderous Cro-Magnon and it was like the Imperialistic British in their colonization all over the planet, wiping out the natives though also breeding with them and absorbing their culture and their genes.
Neanderthal was a Moon worshipper, a nocturnal creature who preferred group sex and cannibalism (but that’s okay because he was such a great guy), and Cro-Magnon man was a Sun worshipper, a mighty hunter, and hated women. The proof is that Cro-Magnon went in for permanent pair-bonding instead of sexual rapaciousness, and didn’t grovel before the Spider goddess who used him sexually and then ate him.
Gaaaah! Creepy! There are passages in this book where one gets the very distinct impression that the author wants a menstruating woman dressed in black leather to shove her booted foot in his face and scream “you worm!” and he would feel SO rewarded that he had been a “good boy.”
Gooch is certain that modern man is a hybrid product of interbreeding between Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon. Well, he is partly correct according to the latest DNA evidence. The DNA shows that homo sapiens sapiens man is unlikely to have ever mated with any Neanderthal woman because the mtDNA of Neanderthal and homo sapiens sapiens is so far apart as to go back almost to the separation from the apes. But there IS evidence of nuclear Neanderthal DNA in some Europeans living today which would be the result of homo sapiens sapiens women being raped by Neanderthal males. That puts a whole different perspective on things.
What Gooch describes as Neanderthal is very close to the description of psychopathy and that may very well be at the root of one of society’s pressing problem: psychopathy may be a consequence of interbreeding between Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal. The dull-witted, un-creative, animal-like (sexually depraved and cannibalistic) Neanderthal, mixed with a genetic strain of superior intellect, creativity, and certain instinctual urges, could have made a very deadly mixture. Unfortunately, when Cro Magnon women had been raped by Neanderthal, their natural, instinctive care for their infants would have induced them to protect the half-breed children with the resulting spread of psychopathy genes in the modern population. It’s interesting that the Neanderthal DNA is said to exist in the modern European population at about the same rate as genetic psychopaths.
Anyway, Gooch is actually a pretty bright guy and asks a lot of interesting questions that really do need to be answered and not shoved under the rug, but again and again he demonstrates his ignorance of the facts and data. He makes a big deal about the red ochre mines of South Africa without a shred of data to attribute them to Neanderthal. He basically creates an entire Neanderthal “religion” from a single bone with a bit of red ochere traces found in the cracks!
He talks about Neanderthal as a “nomadic species” when the data says otherwise. At the end, his chapter on red ochre leaves one wondering “what?” because he basically established nothing, said nothing of significance, proved nothing, and didn’t even fulfill his own mandate of coming up with a good reason for why ancient man was so interested in red ochre and why he used it as he did.
He states that “until 30,000 BP Neanderthal (homo sapiens neanderthalensis is the only modern man on Earth. That is not correct. There are a number of acknowledged finds of homo sapiens sapiens that go back at least 100,000 years and some recent finds that are even older. So, right there, all the things that Gooch attributes to Neanderthal could very well have been produced by homo-sapiens sapiens and most likely, were.
Gooch – and others – would be well-served by reading the works of Victor Clube and Bill Napier:Cosmic Serpent: A Catastrophist View of Earth History, Richard Firestone, Allen West, Simon Warwick-Smith,The Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes: Flood, Fire, and Famine in the History of Civilization Mike Baillie,Exodus to Arthur: Catastrophic Encounters with Comets (English Heritage), The Celtic Gods: Comets in Irish Mythology, New Light on the Black Death: The Cosmic Connection E. P. Grondine,Man and Impact in the Americas, Heinrich Koch: The Diluvian Impact: The Great Flood Catastrophe 10,000 Years Ago As The Consequence Of A Comet’s Impact and others dealing with the issues of cyclical cometary catastrophes for clues to understanding the anomalies that have been, up to now, incomprehensible in a uniformitarian world-view. Nearly everything that Gooch explains as the result of the traumatic destruction of Neanderthal by Cro-Magnon man is better understood in the context of global environmental stresses. The lack of material archaeological evidence for many things can be understood along with the tiny bits and pieces of evidence that have survived.
Well, I wanted this to be short so I’m just going to say that this is as silly a book as I’ve ever read – and I read it with the latest Neanderthal research to hand to cross-check every claim – and I don’t think that anybody ought to waste their money on it. Gooch is not a consistent thinker – he often contradicts himself in a single paragraph – and his logic is not even as good as that of a 10 year old. If he likes something, he claims it for Neanderthal – Cro-Magnon turned it around – and if he doesn’t like it and it has persisted through time, then it was so strong that Cro-Magnon couldn’t subvert it!
Gooch has a very poor sense of psychological situation and reality in relation to his topic and this leads him to superimpose erroneous, pejorative interpretations on many things that are easily understood if the complexity of the situation is taken into account. He tends to see the issues at hand in a rather doctrinaire and simplistic manner. He definitely evidences a certain contempt for moral, spiritual, truly HUMAN behavior, and seeks, through his “jolly romp” style to impose a dystopian conceptual world view on human groups. His oversimplified reasoning, based on the most easily available data, and devoid of psychological color, warps literally everything he turns his mind to. He clearly experiences a basic contempt for human nature at its best and longs for a “leftist world” where his dreams of sexual dominatrixes around every corner can be reality.
Originally Published 2010_05_21