From my review on Amazon.com: A Most Compelling Read -
This is one of the most important books I've ever read. Eisler thoroughly and incisively documents the history of mankind for the past 10,000 years or so. Recent improvements in carbon dating and other technologies for determining historical facts based on archeological discoveries, she debunks earlier assumptions and statements made about history. For example, when copper and bronze were first used, earlier archeologists all assumed that this marked the first use of weapons. On the contrary, Eisler explains, it marked the development of tools - for planting and harvesting and for the making of other tools like cooking implements. Eisler convincingly shows that mankind was not a patriarchal society for most of its history. Neither was it matriarchal, and would otherwise be assumed. While early societies had goddesses rather than male gods, and while women oversaw rites and ceremonies, they were "equalitarian" in nature. That is, people lived and worked in a way to benefit the community as a whole with no one trying to gain power over others.
Eisler states, ". . . one of the best-kept historical secrets is that practically all the material and social technologies fundamental to civilization were developed before the imposition of a dominator society." And, "It is also more than likely that women invented that most fundamental of all material technologies, without which civilization could not have evolved: the domestication of plants and animals." And finally, ". . . our earlier, technologically and socially less advanced partnership societies were more evolved than the high-technology societies of the present world, where millions of children are condemned to die of hunger each year while billions of dollars are poured into ever more sophisticated ways to kill."
We have all heard, at one time or another, that if the world were led by women, we would have less war, perhaps even eliminating it, and human relations would become more peaceful, more inclined to insure that all peoples are treated fairly. This book certainly supports that theory and it deserves a wide audience.
The history of religion as archeologically documented is also a completely eye-opening dissertation. We better understand the complete fabrication of modern-day religion, which is male dominated, prone to killing, war and gaining power. The following passage was enlightening for me: "Like the Kurgans, who several millennia earlier overran Old Europe, the Hebrew tribes that swept into Canaan from the deserts of the south were peripheral invaders who brought with them their god of war: the fierce and healous Yahweh, or Jehovah. They were more technologically and culturally advanced that the Kurgans, but like the Indo-Europeans, they too were dominated by extremely violent and warlike men."
From the violent takeovers of peaceful societies by male-dominated tribes until today, women have been generally, often violently, suppressed across the world. Even in our "free" country, witness how long it took for women to achieve the right to vote. And the religious right still asserts that women should not have the right to make choices about her own body.
Backed by 35 pages of notes and bibliography, along with several pages of maps and diagrams, this is nothing less than a compelling read.
Top-notch women's studies/history.
Praise for The Chalice and the Blade:
"An ambitious new synthesis...[Eisler's]rigorous research...traces the unseen forces that shape human culture."-Los Angeles Times.
"The greatest murder mystery and cover-up of all time."-New Age Journal.
"Both scholarly and passionate...articulates and analyzes with great clarity the deepest level of the current change of paradigms...Essential reading for all those seriously interested in the emerging new vision of reality."-Fritjof Capra, author of The Tao of Physics.
"A notable application of science to the growth and survival of human understanding."-Marija Gimbutas, aurthor of Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe.
"An extremely important book."-Merlin Stone, author of When God Was a Woman and Ancient Mirrors of Womanhood.
Good anthropological information regarding the beginning of religion. Some of the information in this book was cited in "Drowing Down the Moon".