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Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars

on 3 July 2017
The author points out some glaringly obvious faults with Nostradamus' work, namely that the quatrains are ambiguous and suffer in their translation into English. He is also critical of other writers who have offered their interpretations of the quatrains since their work is poorly translated / researched. In essence, in the author's opinion, the quatrains are useless as prophecies.
In addition, he delves deeply into Nostradamus' life and finds fault with the historical accounts of this self-procalimed seer. He also explores the society he lived in and his contemporaries. This extensive back story is merely an attempt to de-mystify Nostradamus and cast doubt upon the legitimacy of Nostradamus' ability to foresee the future.
However, this foray into history is overly protracted, moreso considering that the author only analyses a small number of the quatrains. It is also hardly surprising that there are inconsistencies within the historical records with regards to Nostradamus since these records are centuries old; yet the author tries to use these inconsistencies to cast Nostradamus in a poor light. I doubt that there exists a single historical figure who does not have conflicting or erroneous accounts written about them.
The author has also cannabalised various sections from another one of his own books "James Randi: Psychic Investigator" and appears to quote verbatim entire sentences and possibly even entire paragraphs.
Apart from these minor faults, the book is a damning indictment of Nostradmaus. If you have ever harboured doubts about his quatrains or you want a more balanced appraisal of his work, then this book is certainly for you. But, if you are an avid fan of the seer, then you may wish to stay clear of this contentious book.
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on 12 July 1999
James Randi's book is a brilliant expose of a man whose work is taken way too seriously. His research is extensive, his arguments persuasive. I don't see how any Nostradamus believer who reads this book can honestly say they still believe in this now-debunked scam artist. Kudos, Mr. Randi! Now, if only you could write a book on Gordon Michael Scallion....
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on 12 January 1998
Think you know Nostradamus? Think again. A great deal of research went into writing this book, and it shows. Randi provides an exhaustive history of Nostradamus (and his time) as both a healer and a prophet. Randi informs readers how astrology and magic influenced royalty and peasants alike during Nostradamus' time. Randi provides his own interpretations of the 10 most famous quatrains, and see how other "expert" interpreters wildly alter the meaning to fit major events. Don't buy any other Nostradamus book until you've read this one. It's a real eye opener.
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on 4 September 2000
This book sets up to test the validity of Nostradamus's prophecies and his supporters.
The best part book is the final section in which Randi analyzes some of Nostradamus's best-known verses and tests the interpretations that have been put on them. Nostradamus's writing is so obscure, and of course has to be translated from 15th C French, that it is possible to find almost any "meaning" in it if you look hard enough. Randi analyzes the verses themselves, the translations (and the mis-translations in which words conveniently change, disappear or are added), and the techniques used by interpreters. Without fail, Randi shows that the interpretations depend on extremely tenuous links, guesswork and abstract symbolism; any remote validity about predicted events is found only AFTER the event. In addition, Randi provides alternative interpretations for the verses which much more simply and convincingly show that Nostradamus was writing about events that were contemporary to him or in (what was then) recent history. In total, Randi completely debunks any notion that Nostradamus's verses are visionary prophecies.
Had this section been the total extent of this book, I would have given it 5 stars. However, this book also contains a lot of other information which pads out what would otherwise have been a short book, and these sections do nothing to support Randi's argument or conclusions. There are long sections on Nostradamus's life and other (non-prophetic) writings, including a tedious exchange of letters between Nostradamus and one of his clients (and as not all the letters still exist, we get a disjointed, rambling story); the incomprehensible politics of 15th C France; and some pieces on other (failed) prophets, which are too slight to add any value.
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on 20 November 2002
In actuality, the book only deals with 10 "quatrains" in detail and safely comes up with more rational explanations for the meaning behind them than the fanciful notions of most of Nostradamus' devotees. As well as that there is a brief sketch of the life and times of Nostradamus to put his alleged "prophecies" in some sort of context.
I possibly would have liked a little more debunking of the "quatrains", but Mr Randi presumably felt that successfully explaining away the more famous ones means that the mystical notions surrounding the remainder can be disregarded.
There is a bit of overlapping between this and Mr Randi's other works so readers of his other books may notice some repetition.
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on 20 April 2015
If you can get past the author's style, it's a book that is very well written. It's key skill is that it makes you dislike both the hunter (Randi) and the quarry (Geller) in equal measure. Randi for his pomposity, and Geller for being such a fraud. Not a fraud in the sense that he isn't a wonderful magician, but in the sense that he doesn't admit it and claims to be truly supernatural, when it's proven beyond doubt that he's not at all.
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on 20 July 1999
At last a highly interesting and well written real examination of the diehard Nostradamus myth. A must for everyone interested in the facts and the history behind the famous "prophet". Very entertaining reading.
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