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The Mammoth Encyclopedia Of The Unsolved (2000)

The Mammoth Encyclopedia of the Unsolved (2000)

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3.75 of 5 Votes: 4
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0786707933 (ISBN13: 9780786707935)
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About book The Mammoth Encyclopedia Of The Unsolved (2000)

The late Colin Wilson is one of those writers I can never decide about: when he's good, he's very, very good, and when he's bad, he's horrid. This book is certainly value for money; it's huge, and if you're at all interested in mysteries, the occult, and general "ghosty stuff" there should be something in it for you. At the outset, I claim myself as an open-minded sceptic. I truly want there to be ghosts, etc in the world, and if you give me enough evidence, I will believe it.But against all this is Colin Wilson being... Colin Wilson. He comes across as almost rabidly anti-science and anti-intellectual in some places (unless said science or intellectuals are supporting his case.) His scathing comments about those who doubt the existence of vampires decry "the usual rationalizations" without successfully refuting them. He has staked his support in known frauds such as the Fox Sisters and Uri Geller (I'm not sure whether this was written before or after Uri was outed publicly as a fraud.) In places, he seems determined to not think through the obvious implications of what he's written. For example, in a chapter that establishes someone's "spirit guide" has told them information that is nonsense, he defaults to "the spirit guide was lying", not "the person who claimed to have a spirit guide was lying."This all would have still rated this book three stars, but I find Wilson almost painfully bigoted in places, particularly regarding sex and sexuality. His argument in chapter 51, that the plays of William Shakespeare could not have been written by Christopher Marlowe (a viewpoint I support in general) is that "Marlowe's work shows the prudery that is often characteristic of homosexuals - the distaste for crude smut." In chapter 42, he touches on a case where a woman was raped (word usage his own) by orderlies in a mental hospital. He writes that this woman's doctor "began to suspect that the orderlies may not have been entirely to blame" due to her having an apparent second personality or a case of possession by a spirit who 'wanted it.' Wilson seems in full agreement of this notion. I don't expect the man's writing to be a bastion of twenty-first century progressive attitudes toward minorities, but these unpleasant (and usually unnecessary/irrelevant) little opinions crept in often enough that it began to be a truly uncomfortable read, rather like Christmas dinner with that one elderly relative who is in the habit of piping up with something racist, sexist, etc. right in the middle of innocuous conversation, putting everyone on edge as to when their next rude remark will show up and how offensive it will be.Toward the end, I have to admit my mind actually began to wander through some chapters, and this was partly because of Wilson's refusal to use any kind of balance or reasoning in discussing the various topics this book covers. During his discussion of the possible murderer of Mary Rogers, he dismisses the idea that Poe himself was the murderer (a valid and most likely stance), simply on the reasoning that "there have been plenty of alcoholic men of genius... not a single example of one who has ever committed a murderer." Between such staunch but rather baseless logic and the little tidbits of bigotry throughout, this was a much more tedious read than it needed to be.

There are sixty-three sections in this book, each detailing myths the author chose to include. Lengths vary from a couple pages to about twenty or thirty at the most. Each can be read in one sitting though.I picked the book up toward the end of my long childhood love affair with myths and urban legends, and was disappointed with what I found. I liked reading about mysteries, the unsolved, and similar phenomenon very much, but I really preferred reference books and catalogs, and the title had made me think that's what I was buying. These are more like articles written for a newspaper (and are sometimes just as dull!)The editing is also pretty sloppy, not so that it's not unreadable, but it is distracting sometimes.If this is the kind of book you're looking for, and you don't mind a few minor faults it's definitely worth picking up, but if you don't quite know what you're buying it's probably going to be a disappointment.

Do You like book The Mammoth Encyclopedia Of The Unsolved (2000)?

I started this book as a conspiracy nut and finished it (years later) as a skeptic. Whether that was down to the way the book presented each mystery is unlikely but nonetheless, it was a great read which encouraged me to always investigate stories further and take nothing at face value. I have heard that the author is a believer in things "Woo" related but the stories are presented in an unbiased way (sort of) and easily accessible. It is a decent starting point if you are at all interested in mysteries and the paranormal.

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