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Customer Review

on 19 June 2009
The author of this book is apparently a scholar and historian (according to the book blurbs) which makes the fact that he makes two egregious errors all the more curious. On page 108 he writes that Lady Shelley, the daughter-in-law of the poet (Percy Shelley), was the creator of "Frankenstein". In fact, it was the wife of Percy Shelley who was the creator of Frankenstein and this is so widely known one wonders how he could have made this mistake.

Then, on page 163 he refers to the "deceased husband, Edgar Allan Poe", of Sarah Helen Whitman. In fact, Whitman and Poe never married, though they were engaged and a mistaken announcement of their nuptials was published in January 1849. (See: Silverman, Kenneth. Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. New York: Harper Perennial, 1991: 385-388. ISBN 0060923318)

So, having noted these two errors, I cannot help but wonder how many other errors this book might contain which are not part of my own knowledge base but which might be caught by others? In short, I'm afraid that this may not be a very trustworthy account even if it is entertainingly written and does cover the life of Daniel Home fairly comprehensively.

I would have liked to have seen the book include more extensive accounts of Home's seances written by contemporaries instead of bits and pieces here and there.

I also find it interesting to note that, despite the abundant evidence for psychic phenomena that the author recounts, as well as the overwhelming evidence of social denial, which is acknowledged and discussed more or less rationally, the author himself believes that Home was a charlatan.

The book paints a rather unattractive portrait of many scientific and literary individuals who one might otherwise have thought were open-minded and honest. At the end, despite his declared attempt to write a "balanced" bio, one even questions the honesty of the author.

Still, as I said, it can be entertaining and, even if one cannot wholly rely on the facts presented, this book can be a jumping off point for further research on one of the most interesting figures/events in the history of the paranormal.
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