Secrets of Inferno: In the Footsteps of Dante and Dan Brownby Dan Burstein
SECRETS OF INFERNO is a reader's guide to the journey Dan Brown took us all on in INFERNO. The book gives readers the “back story” on particular plot points, Dante references, symbols, historical events, philosophy, art, music, and architectural works that Brown wrapped into his story. It is also an intellectually enriching, intriguing, fresh and fun look at Dante, THE DIVINE COMEDY, the world of ideas circulating in Florence on the cusp of the Renaissance, and the relevance of those ideas to our lives and our world today.Dan Burstein and Arne de Keijzer are the world's leading experts on Dan Brown's fiction. Beginning with their path-breaking SECRETS OF THE CODE, which spent six months on the New York Times bestseller list in 2004, and continuing through four other guidebooks to Dan Brown's fiction (as well as three film documentaries and two special editions of US News), Burstein and de Keijzer have sold more than three million copies of Dan Brown-related commentaries in more than thirty languages. In the wake of each Dan Brown title over the last decade, the media (from the History Channel to CNN to MSNBC to USA Today to the Washington Post) have turned to Burstein and de Keijzer for interpretations of Dan Brown's books, decoding of the hidden symbols and ciphers, explanations of the controversies, and thoughtful separation of fact from fiction in these supremely popular stories that somehow always manage to fascinate our culture well beyond the bounds of their pop fiction genre.The ultimate guide for any Dan Brown fan, SECRETS OF INFERNO is entertaining, thought-provoking, and will make the experience of reading INFERNO richer than you ever imagined.Contributors include:Teodolinda Barolini, Da Ponte Professor of Italian, Columbia UniversitySteven Botterill, Associate Professor of Italian Studies, University of California, BerkeleyJamais Cascio, Distinguished Fellow, Institute for the Future and Senior Fellow, Institute for Ethics and Emerging TechnologiesJoel E. Cohen, Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of Populations at The Rockefeller University and Professor of Populations at the Earth Institute of Columbia UniversityWilliam Cook, Distinguished Teaching Professor of History (Emeritus), State University of New York, GeneseoAlison Cornish, Professor of Italian, Romance Languages, and Literatures department, University of MichiganPaul Ehrlich, Bing Professor of Population Studies, Stanford University, president of Stanford’s Center for Conservation Biology, and author of The Population BombGlenn W. Erickson, Professor of Philosophy, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte (Brazil)Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow for Global Health, Council on Foreign Relations and author of The Coming PlagueCheryl Helm, Dan Brown codes and puzzles expertGiuseppe Mazzotta, Sterling Professor of Humanities for Italian, Yale UniversityJulie O’Connor, Fine art photographer and photojournalistDavid Orban, Futurist, CEO of Dotsub, and former chairman of Humanity+David A. Shugarts, Investigative reporter, author of Secrets of the Widow’s Son, and contributing editor to the Secrets seriesGregory Stock, Biophysicist, biotech entrepreneur, and founding director of the Program on Medicine, Technology and Society at UCLA’s School of MedicineNatasha Vita-More, Chairman, Board of Directors of Humanity+ and author of the “TranshumanistManifesto”
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I find it amusing that anyone would devote this much attention to the writings of Dan Brown.
Review on free copy received from publisher. Dan Burstein and Arne de Keijzer have been unearthing the facts behind Dan Brown’s fiction since 2004 when their first book in the Secrets-series, Secrets of the Code, spent six months on the New York Times bestseller list. I have not read any of their previous offerings, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading Secrets of Inferno in which they analyse Dan Brown’s Inferno which came out in May of this year. Burstein and De Keijzer have assembled a team of experts from various fields touched upon in Brown’s novel who manage to give a very balanced view of Brown’s novel while also giving readers more insight into their respective areas of expertise. Almost the entire first half of the book is devoted to Dante and his Divine Comedy. Aside from Burstein himself, various experts on Renaissance literature, art and history give their take on Dante’s epic poem and Brown’s use of it in his novel. What struck me about this section was the passion with which almost every contributor spoke of the Commedia. Needless to say, some take issue with Brown’s treatment of this work, but then there was also the highly enjoyable and interesting essay by Professor Glenn W. Erickson who argues that one could very well see Brown’s Inferno as a modern parody of Dante’s, which would imply that Brown actually understands it much better than it would appear. The second section focuses on some of the issues raised by Brown in his novel. It mainly consists of interviews with experts from the fields of population studies, future studies, emerging technologies and epidemiology and virology, as well as two influential members of the transhumanist movement, Humanity+. While most of the interviewees seem to disagree with Brown’s interpretation of humanity’s current state, De Keijzer also interviews Paul Ehrlich, author of the controversial book, The Population Bomb, who might very well have served as partial inspiration for Brown’s antagonist, Bertrand Zobrist. While still mostly interesting, I did not enjoy this section as much as the first, but that’s probably just because the interview-format doesn't really appeal to me. However, this section is invaluable for those interested in the actual science which lies behind the fiction. Section three contains an essay by David A. Shugarts, Dan Brown expert and a regular contributor to the Secrets series, who climbs into Brown’s Inferno with gloves off and highlights some of the things Brown either missed or ignored regarding his locations and their histories, as well as factual errors, writing slip-ups and inconsistencies in the novel. In the final section we revisit Dante’s Firenze, including some beautiful photographs by Julie O’Connor, before Burstein closes with a final essay where he reflects on the moral message of Brown’s Inferno, that, “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis,” as well as some of the other references and allusions Brown makes to both Dante’s culture and his own. Secrets of Inferno is a relaxing read and is well worth the time whether you've read Brown’s Inferno or not and whether you're a fan of Dan Brown or not. At the very least Secrets of Inferno might convince you to read Dante’s Inferno (and Purgatorio and Paradiso), which I think would satisfy Messrs Burstein and De Keijzer. I know it has convinced me.