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This House is Haunted: The Amazing Inside Story of the Enfield Poltergeist, by Guy Lyon Playfair

Publication Details: White Crow Books. ISBN 978-1-907661-78-5
Publish Date: February, 2011

From the publisher’s website: On August 31st 1977, normal life ended for Mrs Harper and her four children in their modest council house in a hitherto quiet corner of the north London suburb of Enfield.

Compared to what was to come, the initial phenomena were relatively minor – knockings on the walls, and pieces of furniture moving in ways that did not seem normal. The neighbours came in and searched the house, finding all in order, though they too heard the knocking. The police were called, and were able to witness a chair sliding along the floor. The disturbances went on, getting more intense and more frightening. They were eventually witnessed by at least thirty people.

They included examples of everything a poltergeist can do – overturning chairs and tables, flinging things about, whipping off bedclothes, levitating one of the girls in full view of passers-by, making her speak with the voice of an old man and defying the laws of physics by passing matter through solid matter.

Much of this bewildering and often terrifying activity was captured on tape and film by Maurice Grosse of the Society for Psychical Research and his colleague Guy Lyon Playfair, who were on the case within days of its outbreak stayed on it until it finally came to an end, with a twist as unexpected and surprising as in any detective story.

No other case of its kind has been so well witnessed from start to finish or so thoroughly documented. Incidents are described as they happened, without embellishment, from some six hundred pages of transcripts of live tape recordings. The Enfield poltergeist is already regarded as a classic in the annals of psychical research. It has been the subject of worldwide press coverage and several radio and television documentaries.

GUY LYON PLAYFAIR was born in India and educated in England, obtaining a degree in modern languages from Cambridge University. He then spent many years in Brazil as a freelance journalist for The Economist, Time, and the Associated Press, also working for four years in the press section of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The first of his twelve books, The Flying Cow, in which he described his experiences investigating the psychic side of Brazil, was translated into six languages and became an international best seller. His most recent book is Telepathy – the Twin Connection. He now lives in London and is a council member of the Society for Psychical Research.

Dreamer: 20 years of psychic dreams and how they changed my life, by Andrew Paquette

Publication Details: 6th Books. ISBN 978-1-84694-502-1 (paper), ISBN 978-1-84694-728-5 (eBook)
Publish Date: January, 2011

From the publisher’s website: Dictionaries say that dreams are a sequence of images from sleep. What is left out is that these images are recollections of something else. They are memories of experiences some fanciful some shatteringly real. When author Andrew Paquette first dreamed of the future he was able to avert a mugging that possibly saved his life. Over the course of the next twenty years he kept meticulous records of his dreams discovering in the process that future dreams are not only possible they are common. Even more importantly because of their quantity he was able to see that his dreams were not just isolated events but remembered snatches of a continuum of existence shared by everyone. In this groundbreaking book he destroys the myths of what dreams are how they are described what they mean and why they are or are not important.

Who Was Mrs Willett? Landscapes and Dynamics of Mind, by Chris Nunn

Publication Details: Imprint Academic. ISBN 9781845402198
Publish Date: January, 2011

From the publisher’s website: Here is an account of mentality and human experience, written for a multi-disciplinary readership. The focus is on how mind, consciousness and selves inter-relate, extending into exploration of ideas about the nature of awareness and a search for relevant evidence.

‘Consciousness studies’ has reached something of a crossroads nowadays. Computational approaches to mind and ‘quantum consciousness’ theories, have not lived up to early hopes. Neuroscience has made huge strides in the last few years, but is still nowhere near able to account for the existence of consciousness itself - as opposed to being able to explain how some of its content gets there. Philosophically, there is lack of consensus over both the nature of consciousness and what questions we should be asking about it.

Chris Nunn's book surveys the current situation and argues that, as far as ‘mind’ is concerned, we need to take the overall dynamics into consideration, which include genetic, environmental and social factors along with neurology. He emphasizes the close links that exist between memory, experience and personhood. What emerges most strongly from this account is that answers to questions about the nature of consciousness are likely to depend on achieving a better understanding of the physics of time.

Chris Nunn is a psychiatrist who researched mind/body relationships and bipolar disorder. He has been involved in the ‘consciousness studies’ movement since 1992.

Science and Spirit, by Hernani Guimarães Andrade

Publication Details: Roundtable Publishing. ISBN-13: 978-0956449337
Publish Date: December, 2010
Cover of Science and Spirit

From the publisher’s website: A Brazilian soldier killed in the 1932 Constitutional Revolution ‘drops in’ unexpectedly on a medium nearly thirty years later, giving his name and numerous personal details almost all of which turned out to be true. A family is terrorised by bombardments of stones thrown by invisible hands, and by inexplicable outbreaks of fires, some of them witnessed by police. A little girl astonishes her parents by giving detailed information about her dead uncle – again all of it being true. It appears that she is in fact her uncle reborn.  These are three of the many cases of ‘paranormal’ phenomena that were meticulously investigated by pioneer Brazilian parapsychologist Hernani Guimarães Andrade (1913-2003), who was both a scientist and a Spiritist. Here, he provides some of the best evidence on record, whether for poltergeists, reincarnation, or survival of death.
 
Hernani Guimarães Andrade (1913-2003) graduated in civil engineering from the University of São Paulo in 1941, and after working for various public and private companies including Brazil’s National Steel Company, he joined the São Paulo state water and electricity department where he became technical director of its electricity and telephone division. In 1961 he founded the Brazilian Institute for Psychobiophysical Research (IBPP) with a small group of like-minded Spiritists, its stated objective being ‘The study of paranormal facts and systematic research into the laws, properties and potential of the spirit by scientific methods’. He was the author of sixteen books, including three on reincarnation based on the original research he and his colleagues carried out on 75 Brazilian cases.

This book has been reviewed by Barrie Colvin in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research Vol 75(3).

The Victorian's Guide to Consciousness: Essays Marking the Centenary of William James (1842-1910), edited by Allan Combs

Publication Details: Journal of Consciousness Studies, Vol. 17, Nos. 11-12. ISBN-13: 978-1845402570
Publish Date: November, 2010

From the editor’s foreword: The essays included in this collection present some of the basic ideas about the nature of consciousness as understood by theorists at the turn of the twentieth century.  The main intention in most of the essays is to explore the dominant thinking of that time in comparison to contemporary thought on similar problems.

Review by Tom Ruffles

Paranormal Media: Audiences, Spirits and Magic in Popular Culture, by Annette Hill

Publication Details: Taylor & Francis. ISBN: 978-0-415-54463-4
Publish Date: November, 2010

From the publisher’s website: The paranormal has gone mainstream. Beliefs are on the rise, with almost half of the British population, and two thirds of Americans, claiming to believe in extra sensory perceptions and hauntings. Psychic magazines like Spirit and Destiny, television shows such as Fringe, Ghost Whisperer and Most Haunted, ghost-cams and e-poltergeists, bestselling books on mind, body and spirit, and magicians like Derren Brown have moved from the outer limits to the centre of popular culture, turning paranormal beliefs and scepticism into revenue streams.
 
Paranormal Media offers a unique, timely exploration of the extraordinary, unexplained and supernatural in popular culture, looking in unusual places in order to understand this phenomenon. Early spirit forms such as magic lantern shows or the spirit photograph are re-imagined as a search for extraordinary experiences in reality TV, ghost tourism, and live shows. Through a popular cultural ethnography, and critical analysis in social and cultural theory, this ground-breaking book by Annette Hill presents an original and rigorous examination of people's experiences of spirits and magic. In popular culture, people are players in an orchestral movement about what happens to us when we die. In a very real sense the audience is the show. This book is the story of audiences and their participation in a show about matters of life and death.

Paranormal Norfolk, by Frank Meeres

Publication Details: Amberley Publishing. ISBN 9781848684713
Publish Date: November, 2010

From the publisher’s website: Norfolk has many associations with the paranormal, from ancient tales of Shuck the hound that has haunted the county’s lanes for a thousand years to tales of ghosts from the Second World War and of unidentified f lying objects. This book takes a new approach by looking at the paranormal as recorded in the archives of the county.

The stories include those collected by some of the county’s keenest folklorists such as W. H. Cooke, Mark Taylor, and W. G. Clarke, as well as first-hand records of paranormal experience. Many tales are published for the very first time, such as Mottie Green, the Wells ‘witch’, and a new light is thrown on more familiar stories such as the haunting of Syderstone Parsonage and the Snettisham ghost. Not least, the book also explains the key role of Norwich in the development of the vampire story! Read this book and your view of Norfolk will never be the same again!

Review by Tom Ruffles

Randi's Prize: What Sceptics Say About the Paranormal, Why They Are Wrong, and Why It Matters, by Robert McLuhan

Publication Details: ISBN-13: 978-1848764941
Publish Date: November, 2010
Cover of Randi's Prize: What Sceptics Say About the Paranormal, Why They Are Wrong, and Why It Matters

From the publisher’s website: James 'The Amazing' Randi is a stage magician who says he has a million dollars for anyone who can convince him they have psychic powers. No one has even come close to winning, proof, say sceptical scientists, that there is no such thing as 'the paranormal'. But are they right? In this illuminating and often provocative analysis, Robert McLuhan examines the influence of Randi and other debunking sceptics in shaping scientific opinion about such things as telepathy, psychics, ghosts and near-death experiences. He points out that scientific researchers who investigate these things at first hand overwhelmingly consider them to be genuinely anomalous. But this has shocking implications, for science, for society and for even perhaps for ourselves as individuals. Hence the sceptics' insistence that they should rather be attributed to fraud, imagination and wishful thinking. However, this extraordinary and little understood aspect of consciousness has much to tell us about the human situation, McLuhan suggests. And at a time when militants are polarising the debate about religion, its mystical, spiritual element offers an optimistic and enlightened way forward. Randi's Prize is aimed at anyone interested in spirituality or those curious to know the truth about paranormal claims. It's an intelligent and readable analysis of scientific research into the paranormal which, uniquely, also closely examines the arguments of well-known sceptics. 
 
Robert McLuhan gained a BA in English Literature at Oxford, then worked as a foreign correspondent for the Guardian in Spain and Portugal. He now works as a freelance journalist. He has been a member of the Society for Psychical Research since 1993, blogging and lecturing on paranormal topics.

Review by Tom Ruffles 

Unruly Spirits: The Science of Psychic Phenomena in Modern France, by M. Brady Brower

Publication Details: University of Illinois Press. ISBN Cloth 978-0-252-03564-7; Paper 978-0-252-07751-7
Publish Date: November, 2010
Cover of Unruly Spirits: The Science of Psychic Phenomena in Modern France

From the publisher’s website: Unruly Spirits connects the study of séances, telepathy, telekinesis, materializations, and other parapsychic phenomena in France during the age of Sigmund Freud to an epistemological crisis that would eventually yield the French adoption of psychoanalysis. Skillfully navigating experiments conducted by nineteenth-century French psychical researchers and the wide-ranging debates that surrounded their work, M. Brady Brower situates the institutional development of psychical research at the intersection of popular faith and the emergent discipline of psychology. 
 
Brower shows how spiritualist mediums were ignored by French academic scientists for nearly three decades. Only after the ideologues of the Third Republic turned to science to address what they took to be the excess of popular democracy would the marvels of mediumism begin to emerge as legitimate objects of scientific inquiry. Taken up by the most prominent physicists, physiologists, and psychologists of the last decades of the nineteenth century, psychical research would eventually stall in the 1920s as researchers struggled to come to terms with interpersonal phenomena (such as trust and good faith) that could not be measured within the framework of their experimental methods. 
 
In characterizing psychical research as something other than a mere echo of popular spirituality or an anomaly among the sciences, Brower argues that the questions surrounding mediums served to sustain the scientific project by forestalling the establishment of a closed and complete system of knowledge. By acknowledging persistent doubt about the intentions of its participants, psychical research would result in the realization of a subjectivity that was essentially indeterminate and would thus clear the way for the French reception of psychoanalysis and the Freudian unconscious and its more comprehensive account of subjective uncertainty.

Review by Renaud Evrard.

Conscious Connections: About Parapsychology and Holistic Biology, by Göran Brusewitz

Publication Details: VDM Verlag Dr. Müller. ISBN-13: 978-3639291148
Publish Date: October, 2010

From the publisher’s website: Is there something called telepathy? Can we sense in advance what will happen? Can animals navigate using the earth's magnetic field? How can an embryo develop to a complete, mature organism? Göran Brusewitz introduces two separate fields, parapsychology and psychoenergetic systems, the basis for a holistic biology, two fields that seem to be connected to each other. He adds research that indicate the survival of bodily death, and research on consciousness. Almost all of these phenomena are dismissed by the skeptical movement, but a clear analysis shows that most of their arguments can be dismissed. From the foreword: "Brusewitz skillfully weaves parapsychological research and bioenergetic models together, using recent data from the study of biological fields as the connective link. This is an innovative paradigm that I have not detected in other books of this nature. Those who follow his reasoning through to its conclusion will emerge with an expanded view of humanity, of Nature, and the mechanisms that connect them. The implications of Conscious Connections extend beyond parapsychology and psychoenergetics." Stanley Krippner, Saybrook University
 
Göran Brusewitz, Master of Science in Psychology, has been President of the Swedish Society for Psychical Research for more than 20 years. He has followed the research in parapsychology, psychoenergetic systems and consciousness and arranged conferences with leading scientists. He is a member of the Parapsychological Association.

Beer and Spirits: A Guide to Haunted Pubs in the Black Country and Surrounding Area, by David Taylor and Andrew Homer

Publication Details: Amberley. ISBN 9781848682665
Publish Date: October, 2010

From the publisher’s website: Beer and Spirits offers a fascinating insight into the stories behind some of Central England’s most haunted pubs.

With over 50,000 public houses in the United Kingdom, the local pub has become an essential part of British culture. Samuel Pepys described the inn as the heart of England. Pubs have been an integral part of British culture since Roman times. The lives and dramas, intrigues and mysteries of the people who visited them form the rich tapestry of any local pub. As a result there are often many stories and histories that are inherently part of the place, and naturally ghost stories and haunted reputations form a dynamic feature of many local pubs. From spectral monks and phantom coaches, to ghostly highwaymen and supernatural hounds, the authors examine some well known and not so well known aspects of Black Country pub history and folklore.

While the stories and accounts in this book are not meant to offer any proof or conclusive evidence of ghosts, they do offer a fresh look at new and more traditional accounts of haunted pubs in the Black Country and the surrounding area. 

Review by Tom Ruffles

ESPRIT: Men and Women of Parapsychology, Personal Reflections, Vol. 1, edited by Rosemarie Pilkington

Publication Details: Anomalist Books. ISBN: 1933665505
Publish Date: October, 2010

From the publisher’s website: ESPRIT: Men and Women of Parapsychology, Personal Reflections: Volume 1, is a collection of autobiographical essays by a group of esteemed 20th century psi researchers, giving us a glimpse of why these gifted, astute individuals devoted much, if not most, of their life's work to this fascinating but monetarily unrewarding field. In the process, Jule Eisenbud, Eileen Coly, Gertrude Schmeidler, Karlis Osis, and eight others advise a younger generation on what pitfalls to expect and what they felt were the most important areas of investigation. This is the first of a planned three-volume series.

Contents: Editor’s Note; Preface; Foreword (by Stanley Krippner); Jule Eisenbud : My Life with the Paranormal; Montague Ullman: The World of Psychic Phenomena as I Came to Know It; Jan Ehrenwald: An Autobiographic Fragment; Eileen Coly: Interview with Eileen Coly; Joseph H. Rush: Parapsychology: Some Personal Observations; Gertrude R. Schmeidler: Questions and Attempts at Answers; Emilio Servadio: Interview with Emilio Servadio; Renée Haynes: Aspects of Psychical Research; Hans Bender: A Positive Critic of Superstition; Karlis Osis: The Paranormal: My Window to Something More; George Zorab: Eight Decades in Parapsychology; Bernard Grad: Experiences and Opinions of an Unconventional Scientist; References; Index.

Review by Tom Ruffles