Erich von Däniken has always been an opportunist. When authors across Europe and North America started writing about prehistoric UFO sightings in the 1950s and 1960s, he repackaged their work as Chariots of the Gods. When Christian conservatism came into flower in the years around 1980, he proposed to prove religion true with Miracles of the Gods. When “alternative archaeologists” like Robert Bauval and Graham Hancock revived Atlantis and pyramid mysteries in the 1990s, EVD latched on with The Eyes of the Sphinx. Last year, EVD caught the odor of Freemason conspiracy wafting up from the corpse of America Unearthed and the rantings of writers like Jim Marrs, and he produced The End of the Silence, a book I wasn’t aware of until this week but which (falsely) suggests in its book description and opening lines that it will reveal the unknown truths of the world’s secret societies, the organizations that run the world on behalf of space aliens. From the book description:
Something about our past – the one that took place thousands of years ago – is not right. And members of lodges and the heads of great religions are aware of this. They are keeping their knowledge to themselves.
“I’m providing the public with a few facts that have hitherto only been available to underground lodges. Or piecemeal in my books,” EVD humbly writes in the opening paragraph. He adds that Christians and Muslims alike have a psychological block that creates the need to keep wisdom and knowledge secret. He extends this to scientists, whom he accuses of perpetuating a dogma formulated more than a century ago. He complains that science and history are nothing more than “the same knowledge that was taught last century.” He should know. His books remain unchanged since the last century, and they were recycled from other people’s work even then. Meanwhile, back in reality, actual science has grown by leaps and bounds since 1968.
Speaking of recycling: EVD starts the book by offering a riff on the thought experiment he presented in Chariots, followed by a repeat of the old observations about cargo cults he made in the same book. He compares the cargo cults to the reception European conquerors received from the Native groups they interacted with—Columbus, Cortes, Pizarro, etc. He, of course, believes the old claim that the Natives worshiped these men as gods. To this he repeats old claims about how ancient people lacked the vocabulary to describe technology except in plant, animal, and mineral terms, and he provides examples that were shopworn even when Chariots recycled them from Morning of the Magicians, such as Elijah’s assumption into heaven and the supposed space alien nature of the Babylonian sage Oannes. He relies on the eccentric work of a German banker named Hermann Burgard to “prove” that the Sumerians had a space station. (Burgard makes his own unusual translations.) The Nephilim get a shout-out, too, because all fringe history books worth their salt must reference the Giants or their Watcher fathers in some capacity. It is seemingly an iron law of fringe history.
The lengthy recap of Chariots—comprising more than a quarter of the book—leads up to his thesis that the problem with the world is organized religion, which he believes blinds people through “indoctrination” into a dogma that prevents them from embracing space aliens. He says that as a result of religion’s nefarious influence we face a “total catastrophe” when Yahweh, Allah, Buddha, Brahma and the rest of humanity’s gods are revealed to be mistaken visions of space aliens. Having said that, EVD returns to his favorite subject: rewriting Chariots of the Gods and its 1970s sequels. The Book of Enoch and Genesis 6:4 are discussed yet again—because: WATCHERS!—and a whole section is devoted to repeating claims about the Giants that he made in his 1990s and 2000s books like Odyssey of the Gods. EVD blithely pretends that the Gold of the Gods debacle never happened, so therefore he once again claims that the endless miles of tunnels filled with gold books under Ecuador really exist and that he personally visited them, even though he confessed decades ago to having lied about the whole thing.
I’ll just stop here to mention that something funky is going on with the translation of the book. EVD seems to have freely adapted texts in German, and they have been rendered into English seemingly without reference to the originals. Here is how the book gives Genesis 6:4, the famous passage on the Sons of God and the Giants: “At the time, and afterwards, too, when the gods’ sons joined the daughters of the humans and had children with them, the giants were on earth. They are the giants of ancient times, the most famous ones.” Worse, the anonymous English translator used by the Singapore-based publisher doesn’t seem to have cared at all what EVD was actually trying to say. The word “Indians” is somehow given as “Indios,” an obsolete Spanish-derived word for Native Americans. The translator also didn’t bother to check what was being discussed and described to realize that Enoch and Henoch are the same fellow, translating them differently.
At the halfway point in the book, we are still reviewing EVD’s earlier work, often with direct reference to his previous volumes. We get repeats of Lord Pacal’s coffin lid, ancient “airplanes” (vimanas), the December 2012 Maya apocalypse, Vedic nuclear war, Abraham’s trip into space, the Sirius Mystery, the Ark of the Covenant, and even the Coso artifact! Yes, the 1920s spark plug found in a concretion of rock in 1961 and wrongly believed to be a 500,000 years old. EVD buys the creationist claims for that hoary old chestnut hook, line, and sinker. There is a good reason for that: EVD is a creationist of sorts: “The story about the evolution of the monkey becoming an intelligent person is a farce.” What’s more of a farce is the fact that this book shamelessly repeats EVD’s earlier books (and those of rivals like Robert Temple) and pretends that it is saying something new.
For a man who makes good coin appearing on Ancient Aliens—broadcast around the world on the History Channel—he speaks with no irony about how “International television also valiantly contributes to the dumbing down of the people.” This is because, he says, television refuses to present his ideas in their full complexity and scientific rigor. Instead, “the television professors and debunkers want to make Erich von Däniken look like an idiot.” Since he is the man who once wrote that Black Africans are a genetic mistake created by aliens’ failed attempts to make white people, and that he disapproves of easing traditional gender role restrictions, I’d say he does a pretty good job of making himself look bad.
Speaking of looking bad: EVD happily cherry picks evidence to make his claims seem true. He thinks that Oannes lived under the sea in a submarine, so he adds that the Biblical prophet Jonah wasn’t swallowed by a fish but was instead taken aboard a submarine. He can’t base this on the Bible, so he takes it from Ginzberg’s modern Legends of the Jews (1909), from the body of medieval myth contained in the Haggadah: “The eyes of the fish served Jonah as windows, and, besides, there was a diamond, which shone as brilliantly as the sun at midday, so that Jonah could see all things in the sea down to its very bottom.” He even cites Gulliver’s Travels as proof of secret knowledge of Mars’s two moons, even though Jonathan Swift’s description was informed speculation based, in all likelihood, on passages from Kepler. Similarly, he accepts at face value the fraudulent Vaimanika Sastra, an allegedly ancient Sanskrit text actually written in the twentieth century.
As the book approached its final part, I became rather dispirited that it failed to live up to the promise of the publicity blurb and the opening paragraphs. There is no discussion of secret societies, no effort to reveal their secrets—not even the well-known “secret” that the Freemasons claimed to have the tablets of angelic wisdom recorded by EVD’s beloved prophet Enoch. Instead, EVD gives space over to Nick Pope to repeat his allegations about modern UFO cover-ups, and to an unnamed Brazilian military informant who claims to have information about UFO encounters. We get a litany of UFO sightings and abduction claims, and EVD’s assertion that the Roswell Incident is as close as we will get to proof of continued alien involvement on the Earth. EVD threw in some speculation about panspermia and whether humans are “replicas” of alien species, and then the book simply ends in mid-thought while EVD is describing a CD a reader sent him showing video of what is allegedly an oval-shaped flying saucer. There is no conclusion. It’s as though EVD hit the publisher’s predetermined word count and dropped his pen.
What a waste of time.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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