This book is a collection of 50 short essays attempting to explain various mysterious happenings throughout recorded history, from the Arc of the Covenant and The Holy Grail to the JFK assassination and even the true author of the works of Shakespeare. Take from that what you will.
By short, I mean each chapter – or “entry” as the author calls them – is no longer than three or four pages, and this is by no means enough space to handle the complexities of the subjects covered. The author, Bill Price, clearly has a passion for history, especially medieval and Victorian history, but he is less than charitable with more contemporary topics.
He is disdainful in his treatment of anything that resembles a conspiracy theory, often dismissing out of hand any theory that doesn’t match up with his orthodox world view. Take Roswell for instance; a highly complex and well-studied mystery among the Fortean community. Price dismisses all possibility of alternate explanations and swallows the government story, hook, line and sinker. What’s worse is, he suggests that the reader should too. The Roswell situation is by no means resolved, in anyone’s eyes, and for an author purporting to explain and celebrate the mysteries of the world, his methods leave something to be desired.
One wonders why he would have included such topics as the Bermuda Triangle or the Yeti if he had little regard for the many theories offered by learned men and women the world over. But, it is conceivable that editors and literary agents might have pressured him to include topics that would generate interest from a younger, more internet savvy demographic.
Given his treatment of these more esoteric subjects, one might hesitate to accept his conclusions regarding other, more traditional mysteries (if there is such a thing). To quote the book, I suspect that many of his conclusions are nothing more than a “load of nonsense.” He offers no new information, and gives no sources to inspect for any of his “facts”. Though the book does offer a “further reading” list, which is also quite short, but still appreciated.
To point out the silver lining in this storm cloud, I will say that his literary style is charming and witty, and that I would consider reading any of his other books on European history and other subjects for which he has an obvious passion.
In the end, I recommend that you pick up this book from your local library, if you can find it, rather than wasting money and being disappointed.
I also blog at mysteriousuniverse.org, check it out!
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