18.The Lost Empire of Atlantis: History's Greatest Mystery Revealed by Gavin Menzies
Atlantis was pretty decent, though.
I remember studying the Minoans in 8th grade history with Mr. Cooper (see previous Archaeology entry), and being fascinating with their archaeology and murals at that time. For me, this 2011 Menzies book reawakened yet another aspect of my until recently dormant interest in archaeology, and in particular opened my imagination to another series of possibilities regarding ancient explorers who might have reached the shores of the Americas thousands of years before Columbus.
Particularly intriguing is the huge body of evidence regarding the thousands of prehistoric copper mines in the Great Lakes region of the US. There is literally no explanation why, while millions of tons of very pure copper were removed from this area thousands of years ago (so pure that it was often beaten into tools and jewelry without any smelting or refinement!), very little of that same copper has ever been found anywhere in the US in known archaeological sites. The copper had to go somewhere. Millions of tons of it over hundreds and hundreds of years of mining! And because the copper was so pure from this region, it as unlike any other copper mined in the world at that time, so it would be instantly traceable with its own "metallic fingerprint," so to speak.
Where the hell did all of that copper go?
Menzies proposes one possible solution to this conundrum. Even if some would dismiss Menzies's Atlantis study as pseudoscience, he nevertheless raises a very important question which cannot be dismissed: If the mined copper does not exist anywhere in the Americas, where did it go? Where was it taken, and who took it there?
Enter the possibility, or probability, OR ALMOST CERTAINTY that someone came, mined the copper, and took it away. This implies ships and a copper trade from the Americas to somewhere else. Menzies proposes the Minoan civilization, and his evidence is very intriguing and plausible.
19. Columbus Was Last: From 200,000 BC to 1492, A Heretical History of What Was First by Patrick Huyghe
Basically, the point of this book is that Columbus "discovered America" for one reason alone: because it makes a good story -- a story so rooted in the identity of so many Central and South American governments that no one wants to question the sanctity of the truth of Columbus's "discovery."
Rather than go into a long summary of this excellent book, let me just say that I find this area of study extremely fascinating. After doing a search on Amazon earlier this year and reading multiple, multiple book reviews on works pertaining to this topic, this particular book consistently received the best, most academic-sounding feedback as a solid survey of many of the most intriguing possibilities regarding pre-Columbus explorers to and settlers in the Americas. In fact, in the bibliography is listed a 2 volume encyclopedic set that is literally the most up to date scientific document available to present every possible piece of known evidence of alternate, earlier "discoveres" of the New World, and I am considering spending the $40 to order the set and continue my intellectual adventure with this idea!
I highly recommend this book, which makes me want to read many, many more titles exploring this same field of study.