Dan Brown
The Da Vinci Code
 

Dan Brown, best-selling author of 'The Da Vinci Code' was born on June 22, 1964.

Brown grew up in Exeter, New Hampshire and graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1982. He and his siblings donated $2.2 million to the Phillips Academy in 2004 to honour their father, who had taught there for 35 years.
He moved to Los Angeles and pursued a career as a composer and musician without great success. Dan Brown then studied art history in Seville.

In 1993 he returned to New Hampshire and a teaching job at his old school. In 1995 Dan Brown and his wife, Blythe, an art historian, wrote '187 Men to Avoid: A Guide for the Romantically Frustrated Woman'. The following year Dan Brown became a full-time writer and published his first thriller, Digital Fortress, in 1998. He went on to write 'Angels and Demons' and 'Deception Point'. 'The Da Vinci Code' was published in March 2003 and sold 6,000 copies on the first day. The book is now reported to have has sold more than 18 million copies worldwide, but this figure keeps growing!

The Da Vinci Code is the fastest-selling adult novel ever and has reputedly earned Dan Brown around £140 million.

Dan Brown puts his writing career down to reading Sidney Sheldon's Doomsday Conspiracy in 1994, saying, "I finished the book and thought, 'Hey, I could do that'." Dan Brown came 12th in the Forbes list of the most powerful celebrities 2005.
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  Dan Brown
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Dan Brown - Biography
Dan Brown, best-selling author of 'The Da Vinci Code' was born on June 22, 1964.

Brown grew up as the eldest of three children in Exeter, New Hampshire and graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy, a decidedly up-market school where his father was employed as a math teacher, in 1982. His mother, Constance, was a professional musician principally involved in performing sacred music. Although Dan Brown actually attended local public, (i.e. open-enrollment), schools until the ninth grade he nonetheless lived with his family on the Exeter campus and participated in a college related life that was also informed by christian values- singing in the church choir and attending church camp.

Brown then attended Amherst College, graduating with a degree in English and Spanish in 1986 and spent several subsequent years attempting to establish himself as a singer-songwriter and pianist with only marginal success.
These endeavors did, however, lead him to live in Los Angeles where he taught Spanish at Beverly Hills Preparatory School to supplement his income and where he also met Blythe Newlon. This lady, - twelve years his senior, was then employed as Artistic Director of the National Academy of Songwriters. As their relationship developed Blythe used her influence in attempts to further Dan Brown's musical career.
It happened, however, that despite Dan Brown's accepted musical talents, (four CDs of his music were produced and his backers spoke of him as 'the next Barry Manilow'), his somewhat preppy and slightly reserved manner contributed to an overall inability to gain sufficient appreciation as a performance artist to justify continued efforts to establish himself professionally. In 1993 he decided to return to New Hampshire and secured a teaching job, in English, at Phillips Exeter Academy, Blythe Newlon accompanied him.

Dan Brown puts his writing career down to reading a copy of Sidney Sheldon's "Doomsday Conspiracy" which he had found on the beach whilst on holiday in Tahiti in 1994, saying, "I finished the book and thought, 'Hey, I could do that'."

In 1995 Dan Brown and Blythe, (now describing herself as an art historian), wrote, under the pseudonym Danielle Brown '187 Men to Avoid: A Guide for the Romantically Frustrated Woman'. The following year Dan Brown became a full-time writer, Dan Brown and Blythe Newlon were married in 1997, he published his first thriller, Digital Fortress, in 1998. He went on to write 'Angels and Demons' and 'Deception Point'. In the early pages of 'Deception Point' there appeared an Acknowledgement where Brown thanked "Blythe Brown for her tireless research and creative input." 'The Da Vinci Code' which seems also to have benefitted from such "research and input" was published in March 2003 and sold 6,000 copies on the first day - going to the top of the New York Times' Best Seller list in the first week of publication. (The New York Times literary staff had, in fact, been so taken with their preview copies that they had actually openly endorsed it as a "wow" just prior to publication).

Dan Brown and his siblings donated $2.2 million to the Phillips Exeter Academy in 2004 establishing the "Richard G. Brown Technology Endowment", to help "provide computers and high-tech equipment for students in need" to honor their father, who had taught there for 35 years.
(In 2005 Phillips Exeter Academy had the largest endowment of any secondary school in the United States, with a market value of $706 million).
Richard G. Brown in his day had also been a 'best seller' having written the celebrated (in relevant circles) mathematics textbook Advanced Mathematics: Precalculus with Discrete Mathematics and Data Analysis. His abilities as a teacher of math had even led to his being awarded the "Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching" by President George H. W. Bush.

The sales figures for The Da Vinci Code kept on growing - to the extent that it became established as the fastest-selling adult novel ever with some 40 million copies sold that had reputedly earned Dan Brown around ?140 million by early 2006. A deal has also been struck with Columbia Pictures for a multi-million pound film adaptation of The Da Vinci Code, starring Tom Hanks as Langdon and directed by Ron Howard.
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The Da Vinci Code
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Dan Brown is the author of numerous bestselling novels, including the #1 New York Times bestseller,
The Da Vinci Code -- one of the best selling novels of all time. In early 2004, all four of Dan Brown's novels held spots on the New York Times bestseller list during the same week.

Dan Brown has made appearances on CNN, The Today Show, National Public Radio, Voice of America, as well as in the pages of Newsweek, TIME, Forbes, People, GQ, The New Yorker, and others. His novels have been translated and published in more than 40 languages around the world.

Dan is a graduate of Amherst College and Phillips Exeter Academy, where he spent time as an English teacher before turning his efforts fully to writing. In 1996, his interest in code-breaking and covert government agencies led him to write his first novel, Digital Fortress, which quickly became a #1 national bestselling eBook. Set within the clandestine National Security Agency, the novel explores the fine line between civilian privacy and national security. Brown’s follow-up techno-thriller, Deception Point, centered on similar issues of morality in politics, national security, and classified technology.

The son of a Presidential Award winning math professor and of a professional sacred musician, Dan grew up surrounded by the paradoxical philosophies of science and religion. These complementary perspectives served as inspiration for his acclaimed novel Angels & Demons—a science vs. religion thriller set within a Swiss physics lab and Vatican City. Recently, he has begun work on a series of symbology thrillers featuring his popular protagonist Robert Langdon, a Harvard professor of iconography and religious art. The upcoming series will include books set in Paris, London, and Washington D.C.
Dan’s wife Blythe—an art historian and painter—collaborates on his research and accompanies him on his frequent research trips, their latest to Paris, where they spent time in the Louvre for his thriller, The Da Vinci Code.
In its first week on sale, The Da Vinci Code achieved unprecedented success when it debuted at #1 on The New York Times Bestseller list, simultaneously topping bestseller lists at The Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, and San Francisco Chronicle. Later, the book hit #1 on every major bestseller list in the country. The Da Vinci Code is now being adapted for film by Columbia Pictures.

 
Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code
  Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code is a fast-paced, well-plotted murder mystery that takes the reader through the Louvre, a long night of murders and a police chase out of Paris to a wet morning in London. There the identity of the evil “Teacher” who masterminded the killings is revealed in the Chapter House of Westminster Abbey.
Using as his prime piece of evidence Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Last Supper,” Brown proposes that the figure on Christ’s right is not the beloved disciple but Mary Magdalene, who married Jesus and bore him a child. She was the Holy Grail for his blood and Jesus wanted her to succeed him in leading his followers. The official church suppressed the truth about Mary’s relationship with Jesus and did its best to belittle her as a prostitute. So much for the tributes Church Fathers like Hippolytus, Gregory the Great and Leo the Great paid to her as “the apostle of the apostles,” “the representative of the church” and “the new Eve announcing not death but life” to the male disciples!
Since the 12th century, a secret society called the Priory of Sion, which practices sex orgies, has safeguarded the “real,” explosive secret of the Holy Grail: that Jesus was married to Mary Magadalene and that their bloodline continues today. Threatened with the loss of their personal prelature at the hands of a new, liberal pope, the bishop who leads Opus Dei promises help to the secretary of state, curiously called the “Secretariat Vaticana,” who is the head of “the Secretariat Council” (a group that does not exist in the Roman Curia). A numerary of Opus Dei, a reformed killer, is set loose to recover from the leaders of the Prior of Sion the cryptex that contains the sensational secret about Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
There is to be no killing, but the plan goes astray. The mysterious Teacher provides the numerary with a gun and prompts him to kill four top officials of the priory and a nun who tries to defend a hiding place in the Church of Saint-Sulpice.
High on suspense, the novel concentrates on six major characters: a fanatical but ingenuous bishop of Opus Dei; Robert Langdon, a Harvard professor; Sophie Neveu, an attractive French cryptologist who turns out to be descended from Jesus and Mary Magdalene; Silas, a huge albino killer; Sir Leigh Teabing, an immensely wealthy seeker of the Holy Grail; and a brilliant French detective whose toughness conceals a heart of gold. A love affair develops between Robert and Sophie. But before they enjoy a week together in Florence, Robert returns to Paris to locate the resting place of Mary Magdalene, now disclosed as being under the Louvre Pyramid.
In The New York Times (8/3), Bruce Boucher exposed the eccentric nonsense about Leonardo that masquerades as new expertise. But there is more to be said about the effort to discredit mainstream Christianity and exalt the sacred feminine, and even goddess worship that was supposedly driven underground by orthodox church leaders.
Quite a few earlier writers have tried their hand at “proving” a liaison between Jesus and Mary Magdalene—notoriously Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln in Holy Blood, Holy Grail (1982). They alleged that several royal families of Europe (but not the Windsors) are descended from Jesus and Mary. Brown is more cautious and names only the ancient Merovingians as belonging to Jesus’ bloodline. His case rests on cracking the code of Leonardo’s painting. But his interpretation, as Boucher shows, is “extremely eccentric” and, frankly, misinformed.
The Da Vinci Code teems with historical misinformation. The claim that the Emperor Constantine shifted the Christian day of worship to Sunday (p. 232) is simply false. Evidence from St. Paul and the Acts of the Apostles shows that right from the start of the Christian movement Christians replaced Saturday with Sunday as their day of worship. Sunday was the day when Jesus rose from the dead. What Constantine did on March 3, 321, was to decree Sunday to be a day of rest from work. He did not make Sunday the day of worship for Christians; it had been that from the first century.
Brown tells us that under pressure from Constantine, Christ was declared to be divine at the Council of Nicaea in 325. “Until that moment in his history Jesus was viewed by his followers as a mortal prophet...a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless.” Would Brown please read St John’s Gospel, which has St. Thomas calling Jesus “My Lord and my God” and expresses Christ’s divinity in many other passages. Decades before John’s Gospel was finished, St. Paul’s letters repeatedly affirm faith in Christ as divine. The Council of Nicaea did not invent faith in Christ’s divinity but added another (semi-philosophical) way of confessing it—declaring his “being of one substance with the Father.”
When pleading his case for the eternal feminine and goddess worship, Brown ignores recent scholarship and belittles the Jewish roots of Christianity. He assures us that “virtually all the elements of Catholic ritual—the miter, the altar, the doxology and communion, the act of ‘God-eating’—were taken directly from earlier pagan mystery religions.” Doesn’t Brown know about the use of altars in Jewish worship, in which much of Christian ritual has its roots? The wearing of the miter by patriarchs and then by other bishops in Eastern Christianity originated from the emperor’s crown. In the West the use of miters can be traced back to the 11th century, when the pagan mystery religions had long disappeared. The Christian doxology (“Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit”) is based on some of the Jewish psalms (e.g., Psalms 8, 66, 150). Holy Communion has its origins in the Jewish Passover, celebrated by Jesus and his disciples on the night before he died.
Apropos of Judaism, Brown introduces some stunning errors about ritualistic sex and God. Old Testament scholars agree that prostitution was sometimes used to obtain money for the temple. But there is no convincing evidence for sacred or ritual prostitution, and none at all for Israelite men coming to the temple to experience the divine and achieve spiritual wholeness by having sex with priestesses (p. 309). On the same page, Brown explains that the Holy of Holies “housed not only God but also His powerful female equal, Shekinah.” A word not found as such in the Bible but in later rabbinic writings, Shekinah refers to the nearness of God to his people and not to some female consort.
It is also breathtaking nonsense to assert as a “fact” that the sacred tetragrammaton, YHWH, was “derived from Jehovah, an androgynous physical union between the masculine Jah and the pre-Hebraic name for Eve, Havah.” YHWH is written in Hebrew without any vowel signs. Jews did not pronounce the sacred name, but “Yahweh” was apparently the correct vocalization of the four consonants. In the 16th century some Christian writers introduced Jehovah, under the mistaken notion that the vowels they used were the correct ones. Jehovah is an artificial name created less than 500 years ago, and certainly not an ancient, androgynous name from which YHWH derived.
One could go on and on, pointing out the historical errors in The Da Vinci Code. One last example. Killing so-called witches was a horrible crime in the story of Christianity. But the idea that the Catholic Church burned at the stake “five million women” (p. 125) is bizarre. Savagery of that extent would have depopulated Europe. Experts give instead the figure of around 50,000 victims over the three centuries when witch hunts were carried out by Catholics and Protestants. But it suits the tenor of Brown’s book to multiply the figure by 100.
The historical misinformation is put in the mouth of the villainous Sir Leigh Teabing, a former British Royal Historian (is there such a post?), and in the mouth of the hero, Robert Langdon, a “professor of symbology” (a new field to me). On their performance, I would not have given either of them their jobs, let alone voted for Langdon’s tenure.
 
 
What exactly is the point of a book review?

It shouldn’t be full of smart Alex cheap shots; it certainly shouldn’t be a three hundred word, thirty-minute-effort, get-even, put-down of a novel some author has spend at least a year on.
It should be a description of the qualities of the book in question so that potential readers can decide whether or not they want to part with their hard-earned cash.
Having said all of that I really couldn’t encourage you enough to go out and purchase The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.
It’s a thrill a minute, cleverly plotted, fast paced, genuinely un-put- down-able (I read it in two sittings) classic. It’s got religion, art world background, real life clues, secret societies, clandestine sects, code breaking, a hidden religious relic, a Mickey Mouse watch, and a beautiful heroine. It’s an exciting cross between, King Solomon’s Mines, Harry Potter and Raiders of The Lost Arc. It’s hysterical, historical and more informative than the recent BBC television series on Leonardo Da Vinci. It’ll send your mind off in a thousand different tangents - all worthy and all thoroughly enjoyable.
The hero, Professor Richard Langdon - a Boy’s Own type hero - is James Bond without the gadgets. Langdon is maybe a tad more Hugh Grant than Harrison Ford. Brown obviously has big long-term plans for the Harvard Professor; he has only given away little snippets of background information and history on Langdon in his two outings - The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons - leaving fuller fleshing out until (hopefully) further volumes.
It’s a great story, a BIG story, a believable story, flawlessly told by an author at a creative peak and the point of this review is to try and encourage you to check this particular gem out.
More than that we cannot do.

Reviewed by Paul Charles

 
  Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code is a novel about a secret society that harbors dangerous evidence that could shatter the Catholic Church if revealed. It's probably the best conspiracy story I've read. I never did make it through Focault's Pendulum or any of Pynchon's books. They bored the pants off me. And The Illuminatus Trilogy seemed a lot more profound (and coherent) when I was in college than it did during a recent re-reading. Brown got the right mix of suspense, history, and conspiracy with The Da Vinci Code.

After reading The Da Vinci Code, I bought all of Brown's other novels: Angels & Demons, Deception Point, and Digital Fortress. I enjoyed them all, but none are as good as The Da Vinci Code. Angels & Demons come very close. The story's set-up is similar to The Da Vinci Code's. In fact, they share the same protagonist, an American professor of religious studies. Both stories involve the professor getting involved in a whirlwind adventure in a large European city (Paris in Da Vinci, and Rome in Angles & Demons) and both feature daughters of important secret society leaders who are murdered by a gruesome misfit henchmen of a competing secret society. The similarities didn't bother me though, because Angels & Demons is such a fun ride.

Brown's other two novels, Deception Point, and Digital Fortress, were written before Da Vinci and Angels & Demons, and while they're both perfectly readable adventures, they lack the historical and conspiracy angles that fuel his later work. Digital Fortress, the weakest of all, takes place in the bowels of the National Security Agency. The female hero of the story must crack a supposedly uncrackable code, and she doesn't know which of her coworkers she can trust. Almost every scene takes place in the basement of the NSA, and I felt claustrophobic while reading it. Brown wisely began moving his chartacters all around the world in Deception Point, which a fun science and political thriller about the discovery of an unusual meteorite in the arctic circle.

 
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