8 January 2009

"Borderlands" by Mike Dash

The so called field of paranormal research encompasses a wide variety of strange phenomena. Some became a common place amidst our social existence like UFOs or ghosts. Others remain known only to those who, in almost fanatical fashion, pursue the time consuming job of scrutinizing old newspapers and science articles, following the footsteps of the likes of Charles Fort. A world of strange sprouts of frogs, bizarre light manifestations and other oddities.

Being a writer and publisher with the monthly magazine "Fortean Times" for more than 20 years, it's no wonder that Mike Dash would venture into these areas with great ease and enthusiasm. This "Borderlands" is undeniably one of the finest overviews of our world of strangeness ever published. Dash manages to establish a perfect balance between an informed, highly factual approach and a joyous sense of humour, making this book a pleasant reading experience. These are some of the most enjoyable 500 pages one can read on such a spiky field of knowledge thanks, in no small part, to an intelligent division of the themes into wide ranging chapters.

The book opens with a short explanation of its title setting the tone for the vast array of subjects explored in the pages to come. The main sections are wisely built from a historical point of view, placing each event within the sociological frame of their protagonists, allowing a better understanding of the evolution of both the study of the phenomena and the public's reactions to it. "Borderlands" takes us through reports of religious miracles, psychic manifestations, ghosts, UFOs, strange creatures and, no less relevantly, hoaxes. Mentioning a few selected cases to illustrate each theme, including some lesser known testimonies, Mike Dash's work constitutes an excellent starting point for those looking for an overview of anomalous occurrences, but also a solid and wide ranging volume for the more knowledgeable reader.

For more information on "Borderlands" and Mike Dash we suggest a visit to his personal website (http://www.mikedash.com/), containing information on this and other of his works. Brief biographical information may be found on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Dash).

The Beginning

This is a personal journey through a very special section of my library. It emerges from my love for books and my inescapable passion for the unusual phenomena that permeate our reality. My long lasting fascination for mysteries and anomalies led me to compile, through the years, a collection of diverse tomes, most of them bought in second-hand booksellers, a few offered by family and friends. Each title will have a short review and brief description of the themes and contents. When possible I'll also work to elicit some relevant facts on the author's lives and careers. More than an exhaustive analysis, I hope this blog can be a contribution for those looking for info on a certain book or just a starting point for further ventures into the captivating world of fringe science and everlasting enigmas.