True Giants: Is Gigantopithecus Still Alive?
by Loren Coleman & Mark A. Hall
I first got my review copy of True Giants: Is Gigantopithecus Still Alive? a few months back, when it was originally released. Loren Coleman was nice enough to send me a copy before I even knew the book was coming out. At the time, my life was a bit hectic, to say the least, and I unfortunately didn’t get the chance to read it until last week. When I first got the book, I thought it would be an interesting look into a popular theory: that what we know today as Bigfoot or Sasquatch may in fact be a surviving population of Gigantopithecus, a large ape long thought to be extinct. But when I started reading it, I realized I was a bit off track. This review will be a little different from ones I’ve done in the past, and I think the reason why will become clear.
History is rife with tales of giants, from the battle between David & Goliath in the Bible, to Jack and the Beanstalk, to more localized legends amongst native peoples of the world. It has long been speculated that these stories were just myths or fables, but others have suggested that there may have been actual living giants that gave rise to these legends. Authors Mark A. Hall and Loren Coleman make their case for True Giants actually existing, and these giants are even bigger than Sasquatch.
First, a quick fact about Bigfoot (or what many people collectively and mistakenly call Bigfoot). There are many types of hairy humanoids reported around the world, from the “classic” Bigfoot of the Pacific Northwest, to the shorter swamp creatures of the south (think The Legend of Boggy Creek), the smelly and thinner Skunk Apes of Florida, and so on. All Bigfoot are not alike, would be the main bullet point here. So with that in mind, we can now talk about True Giants. The Pacific Northwest Bigfoot is generally regarded as the largest type, usually reaching anywhere from 6 to upwards of 10 feet tall. But when we have reports of Sasquatch that indicate the creature was 11, 12, 15 or even 20 feet tall, this is True Giant territory.
Coleman and Hall do a good job of culling together a myriad of stories, from early history and folklore right on up until recent times that tell of these monstrous True Giants. Each chapter focuses on a different geographical area, and puts forth all of the different stories to come out of that area, in a generally chronological order. They take us all over the world for different accounts, Europe, Asia, North and South America, and even on the oceans. Yes, the oceans. There are stories in the book of True Giants who could raft and therefore travel to other lands. And it doesn’t stop there. There are many accounts of True Giants actually learning from human culture, going so far as to wear rudimentary clothing and moccasins, building fires and even having a language.
To be honest, for some of these stories I needed to keep a very open mind. I think even being a paranormal investigator, there are some things that even I find hard to accept. And I think mainstream society and science feels the same way. Even if they don’t believe in Bigfoot, they can accept a large bipedal gorilla possibly eluding discovery. But giants that are 20 feet tall and wear clothing? That can be hard for many people to accept, and the authors acknowledge this. I don’t think they are trying to convert anyone, but are simply putting forth the evidence that is out there.
Now clearly many of these stories are folklore, myths, parables and fables. Another large portion of these are probably misidentifications and misjudgments in size. Studies have shown that people are pretty bad at estimating heights (especially when frightened or startled), so someone talking about a 15-foot-high creature may have actually seen one closer to 9 or 10 feet. Stories of giants with clothes and fire and language? Many of these may be hallucinations or the whimsy of people with nothing better to do than to make up stories. But as with anything in the paranormal realm, it’s not the majority of the stories that catch one’s attention, but the small percentage that cannot be easily explained away.
And that’s what I took away from this book. I didn’t believe every story I read, but some of the more recent and/or credible stories are fascinating. Huge footprints have been found and documented and even photographed. They invariably have only four discernible toes. That’s not something that all hoaxers across the board would probably do, unless that worldwide network of hoaxers that’s been operating for hundreds of years really does exist, as some skeptics would have us believe.
As with any of Coleman’s books, True Giants has a healthy set of appendices at the end (one of my favorite things about Coleman’s books is knowing that once I finish the main book, there will be an Appendix A, B, C, and so on). These are more scientific in nature, versus the more speculative and witness-driven accounts of the main part of the book, but they tie everything together nicely. Most of the pictures in the book are sketches from legend, skull size comparisons and photos of statues from various museums, but there is one picture that really caught my attention. On page 82, there is a photo of a True Giant footprint found in 1976 in Mississippi, and it is frighteningly enormous, even by Bigfoot standards. And of course, like other True Giants, it only has four toes.
If you’re looking for a book about Bigfoot, this really isn’t it. If you’re fascinated by cryptozoology and want to learn more beyond what the mainstream puts out there, then I definitely recommend this book. It’s a very interesting read and once I did have the time to read it, I couldn’t put it down. There’s a particularly chilling story at the end of the book, where a woman writes to Coleman to explain an experience her son had on a Pacific island while in the military and if true, the implications are enormous.
The Bottom Line: To be blunt, this is not a book for everyone. People who already dismiss the possibility of the existence of Bigfoot will probably not enjoy this book. Those who do believe in Bigfoot may have a hard time accepting most of these stories. A lot of these stories go against mainstream science and evolutionary theory, and while it’s hard enough to believe in 10-foot tall apes, accepting that there may be ones reaching 20 feet tall may be too much for some people to bear. But the book overall does make you think, not just about cryptozoology but about society, evolution, and culture, and that in itself is worth the price of admission.
Final Score: 85%