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Guy Austin (UK)

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Alec Harris- The Full Story of His Remarkble Physical Meduimship
Alec Harris- The Full Story of His Remarkble Physical Meduimship
by Louie Harris
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.50

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Mediumship of Alec Harris, 30 Nov. 2009
This is a biography of the Welsh materialisation medium Alexander Frederick Harris who was active in Spiritualist circles in the post-war years. Written by his widow, Louie, the original version, titled 'They Walked Among Us', was published by Psychic Press in 1980 and was quite severely edited for publication. This new edition presents the complete manuscript, the original of which is now owned by another medium, Stewart Alexander of Hull.

As with similar biographies of other well known physical mediums such as Helen Duncan and Jack Webber, if taken at face value this book presents what appears to be conclusive proof for the reality of survival after death and the ability for discarnate souls to manifest temporarily in solid form in the seance room through the unique ability of a physical medium. However impressive and apparently sincere the writing, this subject will always remain controversial for the simple fact that the history of materialisation phenomena has leant intself to abuse by charlatans. Alec Harris was never exposed but testimonials to his phenomena come only from the ranks of the converted rather than independant investigators and as such the material presented here by the medium's wife must not necessarily be dismissed but treated with the healthy scepticism that this kind of historical account to my mind requires.

An example concerns the author's assertion that at one particular seance Mahatma Gandhi materialised specifically for one of the sitters, Sir Alexander Cannon, and the two men conversed at length in Hindustani, a language with which Alec Harris was totally unfamiliar. Although this is impressive it cannot be substantiated with any certainty - Cannon was a British occultist who died in the early 1960s long before the original book was published and therefore conveniently not available to support Louie Harris's claims.

The later part of the present edition deals with an attempt by South African journalists to expose the medium and whose sudden flash-light photography apparently led to much ill-health on Harris's part, in a similar way that Helen Duncan, the great Spiritualist martyr is said to have been killed by a police raid on a blackout seance in England in 1956. This presents Harris in the same light and follows a similar line to Alan Crossley's biography of Duncan which appeared five years before 'They Walked Among Us'.

For anyone seriously interested in the history of meduimistic phenomena this book is essential reading. However, for an alternative view I recommend a comparison with the account given by Tony Cornell of a sitting he had with Harris in Cardiff in 1955 in his book 'Investigating the Paranormal' (Helix Press, 2002).
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 20, 2011 10:53 AM GMT

Haunted Gardens
Haunted Gardens
by Peter Underwood
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.99

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Factual and Informative Paranormal Book, 30 Nov. 2009
This review is from: Haunted Gardens (Paperback)
This is the latest in a long line of paranormal books from the pen of Peter Underwood, arguably the UK's most experienced ghost hunter. Underwood's first ghost books were published in the early 1970s and 'Haunted Gardens' shows that the passing years have not diminished in any way the quality of his writing.

This title takes a new slant on the well worn subject of haunted places and looks specifically at the legends, stories and factual experiences for paranormal phenomena connected with the gardens and grounds of thirty-seven localities both in this country and abroad. A broad selection of castles, stately homes, rectories and hotels around Britain are covered, most of which are open to the public, and Underwood writes from personal experience, having either visited most of the locations himself or having corresponded with those who have encountered and reported strange happenings. The book is subtitled 'An International Journey' and this is reflected in some of the gardens included in Singapore, America, The Netherlands, Mexico and Jamaica.

Relative newcomers Amberely Publishing have done a good job on the production, the text is clear and the sixty plus black and white photographs have reproduced very well. But above all it is Peter Underwood's unique career in paranormal matters that comes through and which makes this book valuable and interesting to read. The gazetteer-style ghost book is often imitated, but 'Haunted Gardens' makes clear there is only one Peter Underwood.

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