Monday, July 8, 2013

Book Review: "Cracking the DaVinci Code"

When The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown reached the stratosphere in book sales, and when Dan Brown was so audacious to say that the book was mostly based on facts, even though it total it was fiction, it wasn't long before a series of books explaining TDC or taking issue with it hit the book stands. We picked up a couple of them from thrift stores. They were okay, but had all the characteristics of books rushed to market.

Sometime later I found another one at my local thrift. Simon Cox published Cracking the Da Vinci Code: The Unauthorized Guide to the Facts Behind Dan Brown's Bestselling Novel. I picked it up for 50 cents, figuring it was another like the others I'd read (in whole or in part). However, once I got into the book I found out it is different.

It is arranged "encyclopedia" style. That is, significant subjects in TDC are given in alphabetical order, and an explanation given about how the subject is treated in the book, and why it is important. If it's a case where Cox found a reference from which Dan Brown probably drew his material, he gives that reference. I found this to be particularly helpful. Dan Brown supposedly claimed his book was mostly based on truth. Where did he find that "truth" to write about?

According to Cox, the 1982 book Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln was the source for much of Brown's material. This book claims to be an authority on the Priory of Sion. It includes the idea that Mary Magdalene was Jesus' wife and had his child, thus establishing his bloodline for all time. These are, of course, major themes in TDC.

Since the book was so different from others I'd read, and what I thought I was buying, it took me a while to get into it. What I finally did was keep it in the front seat of the pickup and read it during times at red lights. Some of the entries were short, and I knocked them out in one sitting. Others took the whole commute home, which includes 15 traffic signals, of which on any given day I might have to stop at 6 to 8 of them. Some entries were longer or didn't hold my attention, and might take a week to get through. I'm not advocating this as the right way to read this book, or any book, but it seemed to work for me.

I found the first dozen entries in the book almost comical, though I'm not sure why. It seemed to me that Cox couldn't be serious, in that things that were obviously fiction in TDC he was treating as if they were true. The seriousness on obviously fictional issues (obvious to me, that is) was what seemed comical, I suppose. However, the further I got in the book the better it seemed. Some of the entries actually helped to clarify things in TDC.

I give this book three stars. It was okay, not outstanding. I'm glad I read it, but I won't be keeping it to take up valuable shelf space, not even in a box. On to the yard sale pile it goes.

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