A review by Carroll Quigley in The Washington Sunday Star, xxxx 19xx,
of a book:
IT BEGAN IN BABEL: The Story of the Birth and Development of Races and People,
by Herbert Wendt (translated from the German by James Kirkup).
New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1963
in Babel: Is This History?"
IT BEGAN IN BABEL:
The Story of the Birth and Development of Races and People.
By Herbert Wendt (translated from the German by James Kirkup).
(Houghton, Mifflin Co.; $6.50.)
This volume is a mishmash of fact,
fiction and fancy. The title may lead the reader to expect a work on the
development of various languages, broadened in the subtitle to "races and
peoples." If so, he will be surprised to find the first chapter concerned with
Herodotus and may conclude that this is a book on the history of ethnology. But
soon we are dealing with the Carthaginian explorer Hanno (two generations before
Herodotus) and, in the following chapter, with Mesopotamian history, the
Hebrews, and the Scythians. In fact, three themes concerned with, ethnology,
exploration and human history are here assembled into an indescribable confusion
which ignores chronology, geography and rational exposition.
This volume seems to be the
reading notes of an omnivorous and completely uncritical reader thrown together
in a slovenly assemblage which is of no value to any other reader. Factual
errors, editorial lapses, confused thinking and misconceptions are numbered in
the hundreds. The confused organization might be forgiven, but the blatant
errors are unforgiveable.
Errors of dating are
thousands and even hundreds at thousands of years off. Geographic errors have
comparable margins. Human beings are murdering each other in the "late Tertiary
Period in South Africa" (p. 9) when there were no humans in that area in that
period (which is usually dated a million years ago). The foundations of the
palace at Knossos are placed in the fifth millennium B. C., at least 2,000
years too soon. The Phoenicians arrive in Syria as "a new race" in the seventh
century B. C. (p. 93) at least 1,400 years too late.
68-77 Mr. Wendt argues that Egyptians sent by Queen Hatshepsut sailed from one
Egyptian "base" to another "along the African coast," and that one of these
bases was Zimbabwe. He is not bothered by the fact that Zimbabwe is 250 miles
inland from the coast and was built at least 2500 years after Hatshepsut's death
(Clark, Prehistory at Southern Africa, pp. 297-298).
The customary terms of
cultural chronology (such as Stone Age, Mesolithic, Neolithic, etc.) are
generally mis-used in this book, as are also most at the terms for cultural
groups. Cro-Magnons are the "creators of the first human culture" and in South
Africa are known as "Boskop man". The Aryan invaders of India are called
"Hindus", a religious and social term of much later significance (p. 14, 129,
etc.), the Indo-European invaders of the Near East (Hittites and Mitannl) are
called Hurrians, a quite different Asianic people, and relationships are so
confused that the largely Semitic Hyksos invaders of Egypt are called Hurrian
and regarded as Indo-Europeans (pp. 102, 129), while the earliest at all
civilized peoples (the Sumerians) are regarded as Hurrian invaders tram India
(p. 90). The invention of the bow-and-arrow is attributed to pastoral peoples of
the steppes (p. 113) when it originated thousands at years earlier in some
forested area of the south.
No Credit Due
translation and editorial work of this book is quite as slovenly as the writing:
silk comes tram a "butterfly" (p. 155) instead of from a moth; pronouns in many
places have no visible antecedents (p. 156, 157): poor Prof. Chiera is reported
to have said (p. 82) that Mesopotamian temples were made of "millions of stones"
one sentence before the author tells us that everything had to be built of mud
bricks because "Mesopotamia had almost no stone." In general this volume is no
credit to anyone who had a hand in it.
professor history in the Georgetown University Foreign Service School, is the
author of "The Evolution of Civilizations" which was published by Macmillan last