Hancock, Graham 1950(?)-
HANCOCK, Graham 1950(?)-
PERSONAL: Born c. 1950, in Edinburgh, Scotland; married Santha Faiia (a photographer). Education: Durham University, graduated (first class honors), 1973.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Random House, Inc., 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.
CAREER: New Internationalist (magazine), coeditor, 1976–79; Economist, London, England, East African correspondent, 1981–83; Observer, former East African correspondent; writer. Gives presentations and lectures of work at international locations, including University of Delaware, Phoenix Book Store, Santa Monica, CA, and University of Cape Town, South Africa. Has also appeared on television, including as host of the miniseries Quest for the Lost Civilisation.
Djibouti Five Years After, H & L Communications (Nairobi) 1980–1989.
(With Stephen Lloyd) Djibouti: Crossroads of the World, H & L Associates (Nairobi), 1982.
(With Mohamed Amin and Duncan Willetts) Journey through Pakistan, Bodley Head (London, England), 1982.
(With Richard Pankhurst and Duncan Willetts) Under Ethiopian Skies, Editions HL (Nairobi), 1983.
(With Mohamed Amin) The Beauty of Pakistan, SAY Publishing (Karachi, Pakistan), 1983.
Ethiopia: The Challenge of Hunger, Gollancz (London, England), 1985.
(With Enver Carim) AIDS: The Deadly Epidemic, Gollancz (London, England), 1986, revised edition, 1987.
(With Carol Yot) Discovering Ethiopia, Ethiopian Tourism Commission (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), 1987.
Lords of Poverty: The Power, Prestige, and Corruption of the International Aid Business, Atlantic Monthly Press (New York, NY), 1989.
African Ark: People and Ancient Cultures of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa, photographs by Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher, Abrams (New York, NY), 1990.
The Sign and the Seal: A Quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant, Crown (New York, NY), 1992.
Fingerprints of the Gods: A Quest for the Beginning and the End, photographs by wife, Santha Faiia, Crown (New York, NY), 1995.
(With Robert Bauval) The Message of the Sphinx: A Quest for the Hidden Legacy of Mankind, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1996, published in England as Keeper of Genesis: A Quest for the Hidden Legacy of Mankind, Heinemann (London, England), 1996.
Heaven's Mirror: Quest for the Lost Civilization, photographs by Santha Faiia, Crown (New York, NY), 1998.
The Mars Mystery: The Secret Connection between Earth and Red Planet, Crown (New York, NY), 1998.
Quest for the Lost Civilisation (three videotapes; originally produced by Independent Image, broadcast on Channel 4 and the Learning Channel; contains Heaven's Mirror, Forgotten Knowledge, and Ancient Mariners), Acorn Media (Bethesda, MD), 1998.
Imprints from the Ancients (videotape), 1998.
Underworld: Mysterious Origins of Civilization, photographs by Santha Faiia, Michael Joseph (New York, NY), 2002.
Monuments to Life with Graham Hancock & Robert Bauval (two videotapes), UFO Central Home Video, 2003.
(With Robert Bauval) Talisman: Gnostics, Freemasons, Revolutionaries, and the 2,000-Year-Old Conspiracy at Work in the World Today, Element Books, 2004.
Supernatural: Meetings with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind, Doubleday, 2005.
Contributor to English periodicals, including Sunday Times, Times, Guardian, and the Independent. Editor, with Robert Bauval, Hieroglyph: The Hancock & Bauval Newsletter, 1999–.
SIDELIGHTS: Journalist Graham Hancock began his career as a foreign correspondent reporting stories from Africa, but has increasingly focused on writing books about possible previously unknown, ancient civilizations. As an East African correspondent for the Economist and the Observer in the 1980s, he gained extensive knowledge of the area, especially of the countries Kenya, Djibouti, and Ethiopia, which led him into a corollary career in the 1980s as an author of several books on African subjects. The works he has written include Djibouti Five Years After, an examination of the small African nation's economic, political, and social development, and travelogues on Ethiopia and Pakistan.
Hancock also penned a more serious volume about East Africa, focusing on the famine that devastated Ethiopia in the mid-1980s. His 1985 treatise, Ethiopia: The Challenge of Hunger, analyzes the famine as a result of civil war and ecological problems. The work was published after widespread world reaction to the emergency situation brought extensive media coverage and humanitarian aid to Ethiopia. Hancock outlines the particular social, geographical, and political conflicts that contributed to the disaster and the geopolitical maneuvering that prolonged it. Times Educational Supplement reviewer Mary Cruickshank noted that "Hancock's book is essential reading for all those with unanswered questions about the catastrophe, and its balanced perspective makes it valuable reference material."
AIDS: The Deadly Epidemic, Hancock's next work, was written with Enver Carim and marked a new direction in subject matter for Hancock. Published in 1986, it is an examination of various important issues relating to the virus that causes acquire immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). One of the work's emphases is the divergent patterns of the disease between Africa and Western countries. In Western environments, notably the United States, the disease was first reported among the gay population and intravenous drug users; in Africa it is believed to be transmitted primarily by heterosexuals. Richard Davenport-Hines, commenting on AIDS in the Times Literary Supplement, noted that although the authors' prose sometimes becomes excitable or prurient, they have written a "comprehensive study."
Lords of Poverty: The Power, Prestige, and Corruption of the International Aid Business, published in 1989, follows a theme the author originally explored in describing Ethiopia's plight: that geopolitical strategy often results in vast suffering for impoverished nations. Lords of Poverty maligns the immense international network whose primary aim is noble in purpose: to procure money, food, and technology from relatively modern and wealthy industrialized states to assist less developed Third World countries. Hancock's tome details how this aid is often mismanaged and misused. The author's extensive knowledge of the East African region and its politics provided him several examples to support his criticism of both official humanitarian aid from governments and that of relief agencies such as UNESCO and UNICEF. The Lords of Poverty recounts how this financial assistance is often part of a vicious circle of economic subsistence serving to keep corrupt regimes loyal to Western governments. These larger nations, in turn, covet the less-developed countries' natural resources or geographical importance, such as Ethiopia's strategic locale near a hostile Middle East. The money often winds up not in the hands of those who need it most but rather in the pockets of unscrupulous civil servants and unethical entrepreneurs. Lords of Poverty also recounts the windfall benefits accrued by Western industry and commerce in aiding the Third World.
Hancock supports his argument with statistics and horror stories of good intentions gone wrong, such as irradiated food donated by the European Economic Community to starving Africans, and gives examples of development projects whose end result was only to greatly increase the price of goods for the economically disadvantaged community that received them. Reviewers of Lords of Poverty often commented on the author's vehemence in describing the corruption and waste inherent in foreign aid. Chicago Tribune Books critic James North, for example, described the volume as "an angry book, overflowing with sarcastic rage." Although North expressed reservations about Hancock's recommendation of ending all foreign aid, he nonetheless judged his work "impassioned and very humane." Thurston Clarke, writing in the New York Times Book Review, reflected that Hancock's style "sometimes distracts from his arguments" but maintained that the "deadly serious book about a desperately important subject … demands a serious reply from the development industry."
Beginning in the 1990s, Hancock turned away from the problems of poverty in Africa and began to write about the mysteries of the ancient world, myth, religion, and the supernatural. His The Sign and the Seal: A Quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant is a speculative chronicle of the present-day location of the venerated golden chest made to contain the stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed. According to the Bible, the prophet Moses received the tablets from God, and they were then stored in the Ark of the Covenant, which resided for the most part in a temple in Jerusalem until around 655 B.C.E., when it was removed in a time of political crisis. The ark's whereabouts have been shrouded in mystery since then, yet a small stone chapel in Aksum, Ethiopia, heavily guarded by monks, is venerated by a community as the repository of the Ark. Hancock traces the path that the gilded object may have followed to its final resting place, proposing that it was carried by Israelites who fled the Middle East for Ethiopia and may have been placed in Aksum several hundred years later.
The Sign and the Seal draws upon many hypotheses and suppositions involving Egyptian history, a medieval Ethiopian literary source, and the mysterious origins of Ethiopia's small Jewish population. Hancock weaves in various legends and theories surrounding the enigma, including one concerning a map on the wall of a medieval French cathedral that leads to the ark's location in Aksum. Through these theories Hancock concludes The Sign and the Seal by stating definitively that the Ethiopian chapel does indeed hold the ark, but news articles surrounding its publication concentrated on disclaiming the author's thesis through the testimony of respected biblical and African scholars. New Statesman and Society reviewer Peter Stanford praised Hancock for "piecing together the mosaic with the skill of an antique restorer," yet felt that the author's ultimate lack of proof invalidated the conclusion. Brian Martin, writing in the London Times, described The Sign and the Seal as "highly readable." For him it was "a benign chimera of … travelogue, mysterious adventure, [and] coffee-table book."
In the mid-1990s Hancock published two more books that explore myth and religion. Fingerprints of the Gods: A Quest for the Beginning and the End, published in 1995, examines whether ancient technologically advanced civilizations existed before commonly thought. The following year, Hancock released The Message of the Sphinx: A Quest for the Hidden Legacy of Mankind. Written with Robert Bauval, The Message of the Sphinx puts forth the idea that the Sphinx, which resides among the pyramids on the Giza plateau in Egypt, was really built in 10,500 B.C.E., almost seven thousand years earlier than current Egyptologists believe. Bauval and Hancock note that the body of the Sphinx shows damage from water erosion, something only possible in that region before 8,000 B.C.E., according to geological evidence. The parts of the lion-like statue added in later times, such as the head and front paws, do not show the same patterns. Bauval and Hancock further argue that the Sphinx was built in that location by survivors of a society almost destroyed by some natural occurrence and, according to exact astronomical calculations that, with the later-constructed pyramids, reflect the alignment of the sun, Orion, and the constellation Leo as seen in 10,500 B.C.E. They theorize that the building of the pyramids was guided by descendants of these survivors following specific directions passed down to them. The authors conclude, in light of this information, that the ancient Egyptians inherited rather than originated their cosmology, and that human civilization is thousands of years older than currently believed.
Fingerprints of the Gods made Hancock an international best-selling author, and he was encouraged to express his controversial theories about early, unknown civilizations in books such as Heaven's Mirror: Quest for the Lost Civilization and Underworld: The Mysterious Origins of Civilization. The former title, which is based on his three-part television miniseries Quest for the Lost Civilisation, continues his theory that there were ancient civilizations that perished from floods caused by the end of the last Ice Age. In Underworld Hancock actually sets out to explore underwater sites off the coasts of India, China, the Mediterranean region, interviewing mystics and alternative historians along the way. While a Publishers Weekly critic enjoyed the author's portrayal of "Indian and Japanese subcultures," the reviewer objected to Hancock's reliance on interviews with people as evidence of theories that "have been clearly refuted by other scientists." Booklist contributor Gilbert Taylor similarly felt that the book is "not intellectually persuasive" though it could "prove commercially successful."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Alternatives, December, 1985, Peter Timmerman, review of Ethiopia: The Challenge of Hunger, p. 54.
American Journal of Agricultural Economics, May, 1991, Eugene Jones, review of Lords of Poverty: The Power, Prestige, and Corruption of the International Aid Business, p. 542.
Archaeology, January, 1994, review of African Ark: People and Ancient Cultures of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa, p. 81.
Booklist, January 1, 1987, review of AIDS: The Deadly Epidemic, p. 673; May 1, 1999, Sue-Ellen Beauregard, review of Quest for the Lost Civilization, p. 1605; September 15, 1999, Whitney Scott, review of The Message of the Sphinx: A Quest for the Hidden Legacy of Mankind, p. 277; December 15, 2002, Gilbert Taylor, review of Underworld: The Mysterious Origins of Civilization, p. 714.
Book World, July 16, 1995, review of Fingerprints of the Gods: A Quest for the Beginning and the End, p. 9.
British Book News, May, 1985, review of Ethiopia, p. 283.
Choice, February, 1990, review of Lords of Poverty, p. 980; July, 1995, review of Ethiopia, p. 1695.
Christian Science Monitor, February 1, 1991, David C. Walters, review of African Ark, p. 13.
Commonweal, June 15, 1990, John P. Hogan, review of Lords of Poverty, p. 390.
Contemporary Review, April, 1986, review of AIDS, p. 220.
Economist, May 3, 1986, review of AIDS, p. 110.
Encounter, April, 1990, review of Lords of Poverty, p. 58.
Financial Post, November 18, 1995, Jessica Pegis, review of Fingerprints of the Gods, p. 35.
Foreign Affairs, spring, 1990, Andrew J. Pierre, review of Lords of Poverty, p. 167.
Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), January 4, 2003, review of Underworld.
Guardian Weekly, April 12, 1992, review of The Sign of the Seal: A Quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant, p. 26.
International Journal of Legal Information, Howard A. Hood, review of Lords of Poverty, pp. 72-73.
Journal of Modern African Studies, December, 1988, John Markakis, review of Ethiopia, p. 715.
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 1992, review of The Sign of the Seal, p. 160; April 15, 1995, review of Fingerprints of the Gods, p. 531.
Kliatt, November, 1998, review of The Message of the Sphinx, p. 54.
Library Journal, November 1, 1990, Eugene C. Burt, review of African Ark, p. 88; July, 1999, Kellie Flynn, "Graham Hancock's Quest for the Lost Civilization," p. 151.
London Review of Books, December 21, 1989, review of Lords of Poverty, p. 16.
Management Today, January, 1990, Tim Beaumont, review of Lords of Poverty, p. 92.
Nature, July 6, 1995, L. Sprague de Camp, review of Fingerprints of the Gods, p. 29.
New Scientist, April 13, 2002, review of Underworld, p. 49.
New Statesman, March 29, 1985, review of Ethiopia, p. 30; March 28, 1986, Andrew Lumsden, review of AIDS, p. 32; November 27, 1998, Elaine Showalter, review of Heaven's Mirror: Quest for the Lost Civilization, p. 51.
New Statesman and Society, April 3, 1992, Peter Stanford, review of The Sign and the Seal, pp. 46, 48.
New York Times Book Review, November 12, 1989, Thurston Clarke, review of Lords of Poverty, pp. 12-13.
Orbis, summer, 1990, Patrick Clawson, review of The Lords of Poverty, p. 451.
Playboy, January, 1991, Digby Diehl, review of African Ark, p. 29.
Publishers Weekly, August 31, 1990, review of African Ark, p. 55; March 9, 1992, review of The Sign and the Seal, p. 45; June 17, 1996, review of The Message of the Sphinx, p. 56; September 30, 2002, review of Underworld, p. 60; September 6, 2004, review of Talisman: Gnostics, Freemasons, Revolutionaries, and the 2,000-Year-Old Conspiracy at Work in the World Today, p. 59.
Reason, February, 1990, Tom Bethell, review of Lords of Poverty, p. 50.
Reference Services Review, winter, 1987, review of AIDS, p. 46.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 9, 1998, Dick Richmond, "New Theory Adds 8,000 Years to Sphinx's Life," p. T9.
Skeptical Inquirer, July-August, 2002, Michael Brass, "Tracing Graham Hancock's Shifting Cataclysm," p. 45.
South, March, 1990, Adrian Hewitt, review of Lords of Poverty, p. 73.
Spectator, October 28, 1989, review of Lords of Poverty, p. 31.
Times (London, England), April 2, 1992, Brian Martin, review of The Sign and the Seal, p. 5.
Times Educational Supplement, March 8, 1985, Mary Cruickshank, review of Ethiopia, p. 29; May 9, 1986, review of AIDS, p. 26; April 17, 1992, Victoria Neumark, review of The Sign of the Seal, p. 22.
Times Literary Supplement, July 18, 1986, Richard Davenport-Hines, review of AIDS, p. 780; May 15, 1992, Christopher Clapham, review of The Sign of the Seal, p. 23.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), January 28, 1990, James North, review of Lords of Poverty, p. 6.
Utne, January, 1990, review of Lords of Poverty, p. 103.
Wall Street Journal, September 28, 1989, Melanie S. Tammen, review of Lords of Poverty, p. A23.
Official Graham Hancock Web site, http://www.grahamhancock.com (September 30, 2005).