This was a book that was meant to accompany a television series that I never saw or heard of being shown. The purpose is to examine and hopefully to debunk several types of mysterious phenomena: curses, poltergeists, foreknowledge of future events, contact with spirits, psychic communication, walking on fire, mediums, those who develop stigmata, and strange manipulations of physical objects. The book runs through a number of well-known examples of a variety of these odd occurrences and makes a serious attempt to explain them from a scientifically objective point of view. There are effective descriptions of how certain observers (such as scientists or Arthur Conan Doyle) could have been fooled by various types of charlatanry. By the way, has anyone noticed that we don't hear as much about magicians and psychics and the like as we used to? Perhaps the prevalence of video cameras has made their tricks harder to pull off.
The colorful menagerie of bizarre characters and incomprehensible events are the best thing about the book of course, and the pictures are very nice too. There are eerie stories of farewell appearances by people who have just died and psychic communications across the continents. There are appearances of ghosts and poltergeists who throw things around. But the emphasis here is on debunking, and for every story that could be true, there are a couple which the authors think are not, and a number in which con artists at work were eventually exposed. The name of the well-known debunker James Randi comes up several times. The writing is pretty dry and unexciting. This was a good subway book, except for its size and weight.