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A Good Read: Book Suggestions & Recommendations

I saw a film clip showing the sacking of Magdeburg (1631), no idea where from, but it fired the imagination and I made a mental note to visit the city one day (even though I expect it has changed a bit). Recently found out I have a cousin (maybe son of cousin) who comes from there.
I saw a film clip showing the sacking of Magdeburg (1631), no idea where from, but it fired the imagination and I made a mental note to visit the city one day (even though I expect it has changed a bit). Recently found out I have a cousin (maybe son of cousin) who comes from there.
There's a dramatic picture in the Munkler book. It shows general Tilly entering 20220403_115907.jpg the devastated city. He had hoped for housing and food in the city and now he had nothing. And his reputation was demolished.

And not meant in a cynical way ... the picture reminds me of the recent devastation after the withdrawal of the Russian troops. Nothing changes ...

For those of you who can read old German, this will resonate with the Ukraine pictures:
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A recent, much-appreciated, discovery on my part -- admittedly not particularly Fortean, except for its containing an element of (agreeable) slight scary-ness concerning the gods and mysteries of Britain some two millennia ago. An author, currently writing, completely unknown to me until a chance charity-shop discovery a couple of months ago. The bod's stock-in-trade is Roman times, especially Britain under the Roman Empire -- author's name, Damion Hunter; which I learn is a pen-name: really Amanda Cockrell -- an American lady; not a professional historian (she has worked at a variety of jobs) -- seemingly she has been fascinated by ancient Rome, especially a particular sector of it, since having been while at college, introduced by a friend to Rosemary Sutcliff's books.

Have to date read two Damion Hunter books; am seeking more. The Rosemary Sutcliff connection can be seen -- much similarity in subject, style, and general "feel", to those of Sutcliff's novels (in RS's words, "for children from nine to ninety") set in Roman and Dark Ages Britain: for me, none the worse for that -- decades ago, I revelled in Sutcliff's books; and my discovery told of here, has me contemplating revisiting them. It would seem that Hunter has written and had published, maybe something like ten books set in this general time and place (several different series with different protagonists); I am hoping, more to come. I have the picture that in the main, the novels' milieu and setting for viewpoint characters, is the Roman army.

Not wishing to seem condescending or anti-American; but the author (perhaps via strong Sutcliff influence?) would seem to use, without trouble, British-style English in her novels -- in my view, appropriately, with them being set chiefly in Britain, however long ago. The characters' conversation is framed in present-day colloquial (British) English; which is to my personal taste, for fiction set in history long ago: one accepts this as the equivalent of what the characters would actually have been saying, in whatever language ! In historical fiction, I am personally in favour of things being handled this way, rather than via pseudo-medieval "pishery-tushery", or -- worse still -- its "classical" equivalent.
I’m so disappointed. I got this book. True Tales of the Supernatural from the UK - Real Ghost Stories by Tina Vantyler.

It seemed really interesting until I start reading it and if those stories are real I’m a Dutch man. They are so clearly fiction. The first story is totally written like a fictional story with too much detail. The second at least tries to be slightly more convincing and I haven’t got any further. I am just so annoyed.

I thought I would warn others. If you want fiction get it, if you do want real stories avoid!
Two recent finds. A bit too specialised for now to read entirely, but very well researched:

UFOs and Alien Contact: Two Centuries of Mystery
by Ralph Bartholomew, George S. Howard


Part I. Strange Things Seen in the Sky
1. Wishful Thinking: The Great American Airship Mania of 1896-97
2. Thomas Edison's "Electric Star" Illusion of 1897
3. When Believing Is Seeing: Canada's Ghost Balloons of 1896-97
4. The New Zealand Zeppelin Scare of 1909
5. The New England Airship Hoax of 1909-10
6. The British UFO Panic of 1912-13
7. Phantom German Air Raids and Spy Missions over Canada, America, and South Africa during World War I
8. Sweden's Ghost Rocket Delusion of 1946
9. Flying Saucers Come of Age
10. UFOs as a Collective Delusion

Part II. Strange Experiences: Real or Fantasized?
11. In Praise of Foresight and Fantasy
12. UFO "Abductees" and "Contactees": Psychopathology or Fantasy-Prone?
13. The Further Reaches of Human Experience

Havana Syndrome: Mass Psychogenic Illness and the Real Story Behind the Embassy Mystery and Hysteria
by Robert W. Baloh, Robert E. Bartholomew


1 Chasing Ghosts in Cuba
Havana ‘Syndrome’ Unmasked
The Curious Case of Chris Allen
The Press Briefing
Ever-Increasing Circles
The Alarming Discovery of White Matter Changes
December 2017: The Cuban Sonic Investigation Committee Findings

2 The Crisis Deepens
TheJAMA Fiasco
Dismissing Mass Hysteria
The Golden Investigation
Spectacle in Miami
Ear-Witness Testimony
The Context: Ghosts of the Cold War Past
From Sonic Attacks to Microwaves

3 Canadian Contagion
60 Minutes Enters the Fray
Unsound Science: The SecondJAMA Study
The Canadian Fumigation Study
Mixing of Politics and Science

4 Psychogenic Illness on the Battlefield: From the Civil War to Gulf War Syndrome
The U.S. Civil War
The First World War
World War II and Traumatic Neurosis
The Korean and Vietnam Wars
Concussion-Like Symptoms in Afghanistan and Iraq
The Persian Gulf War

5 Mass Hysteria Through the Ages: From St. Vitus Dance to Mystery Odors
The Middle Ages
Saint-Médard Pilgrim Outbreak
The Modern Era of Secular Outbreaks
The Power of Belief
The Power of an Idea: ‘Fried’ Mail and ‘Bad’ Coke
The Belgian Coca-Cola Scare
Recurrent Themes
Laughing Mania
The Resurgence of Motor Hysteria in the West

6 Musical Illness and Telephone Sickness: An Early History of Sound and Suggestion
The Curious Case of the Glass Armonica
Telephone Sickness
Acoustic Shock Today

7 Modern-Day Acoustical Scares: From ‘The Hum’ to ‘Wind Turbine Syndrome’
The Devon Zoo Giraffe Saga
The Hummers
Wind Turbine Syndrome
A Social ‘Illness’


8 Phantom Assailants: Mad Gassers, Phantom Slashers, and Other Believed-in Imaginings

Mad Gassers
The Mad Gasser of Virginia
The Mad Gasser of Mattoon, Illinois
Voodoo Assailants
Phantom Slashers and Monsters
The Montreal ‘Slasher’
Monkey Man ‘Attacks’ in India
‘Attack’ at Frog Hollow


9 A Short History of Spider, Insect, and Worm Scares
The ‘June Bug’ Scare
Bug Scares
Social Panics: From Kissing Bugs to Cabbage Worms
The Seattle Windshield Pitting ‘Epidemic’
The American Cabbage Worm Panic

10 State Terrorism Masquerading as Psychogenic Illness
Pseudo-Poisonings in the Middle East
Tainted Chewing Gum Panics
Other Pseudo-Poisonings

11 The Social Construction of ‘Havana Syndrome’
Sonic Weapons and Science Fiction
A Pattern Emerges
Historical Parallels
Common Misperceptions
Found last week and binge-read - quite Fortean:

It's All in Your Head
by Suzanne O'Sullivan
4.08 · Rating details · 3,058 ratings · 332 reviews
A neurologist's insightful and compassionate look into the misunderstood world of psychosomatic disorders, told through individual case histories

The Sleeping Beauties
by Suzanne O'Sullivan
3.97 · Rating details · 899 ratings · 132 reviews
Suzanne O'Sullivan's THE SLEEPING BEAUTIES, an exploration of different aspects of psychosomatic disorders, mass hysteria, culture bound syndromes (a set of symptoms that exist only within a particular society), using as its starting point a particular case of more than 400 migrant children in Sweden who have fallen into a "waking coma"

This is a fascinating and weird book, maybe inspired by Lacanian psychology (as known from Zizek).
Just the review is a nice wild ride:

“Why so many footnotes???” Which is the same question as, “why are your sentences so long, why so many commas, what the hell is with you and semicolons?” It’s all on purpose, to get rid of readers. You’re stumped by the physical layout? This book is not for you, your brain is already set in concrete, it can never change, only crumble as it ages.

Sadly, Porn consists of a mid-double-digits-number of short-ish (5-10 pages) interpretations of various texts, vaguely connected by rants and insults. The texts range from classical (especially Thucydides and Oedipus Rex), to Biblical, to modern novels, to movies, to pornos, to dreams. Some of them, on closer inspection, are fictional - not in the sense of being works of fiction, but in the sense where Teach made them up.

Some are outright psychoanalytic dream interpretations, and the rest draw from this tradition. The underlying theory is that every work of art (including porno) is an expression of some repressed desire, which has to be different from the open desires (so eg Oedipus can’t really be about marrying your mother, because Oedipus openly marries his mother).

The Premonitions Bureau: A True Story: Signed Edition (Hardback) - Sam Knight:​

I have just pre ordered this from Waterstones, signed for £14.99. It sounds like a fascinating Fortean read. If I spent £10 more I got free post and packing, so i also bought JOTTS by Mary Rose Barrington.

This is the Waterstones link to the first book:

Having been pointed to the Goodreads page, then through there the free online pdf of All Tomorrow s, ( thanks @OgredWeary ) , I heard it was based on Man After Man by Douglas Dixon. Speculative Zoology/Evolution again.

Not my usual type of reading , but a very interesting read so far. Really enjoying it, weird and wonderful.


I'm also reading in tandem , Truth Proof 4 by Paul Sinclair.

It's about strange encounters around Scarbro/North York's area. Lots of strange experiences happening, werewolves, UFOs, gnomes and all. He doesn't try to force an opinion on the reader, just gives you the facts. There's also some (alledged) strange conspiracy type goings on 's at the local RAF base. I've holiday in the area many times , I'm yet to see anything.


I also finished the British Bigfoot book by Lee Brickley of late. It was ok. These creatures are something interdimensional, they cannot be flesh and blood, in little Eng land? Nope. Too small . Same with the werewolves, it's something magical, although I don't know what. A lot of people are having strange sightings that's for sure.

can we post our Goodreads profile I D's here?
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The Premonitions Bureau: A True Story: Signed Edition (Hardback) - Sam Knight:​

I have just pre ordered this from Waterstones, signed for £14.99. It sounds like a fascinating Fortean read. If I spent £10 more I got free post and packing, so i also bought JOTTS by Mary Rose Barrington.

This is the Waterstones link to the first book:


After reading about this book here (I think it was here!), I ordered, read, and greatly enjoyed "JOTTS" by Mary Rose Barrington. I recommend it highly. The author was an attorney for decades in her professional life, as well as being involved in the Society of Psychical Research, again, for decades. Her common sense and grounding in detailed analysis is evident in her writings.
Dominion by CJ Sansom. Alternate history set in 1952, Churchill didn't become PM in 1940, Britain is now a vassal state of Nazi Germany. As good as Fatherland in the rounded picture it creates also a very good thriller..

Rise of the Jain Trilogy by Neal Asher, great Space Opera.
Dominion by CJ Sansom. Alternate history set in 1952, Churchill didn't become PM in 1940, Britain is now a vassal state of Nazi Germany. As good as Fatherland in the rounded picture it creates also a very good thriller..

I've much enjoyed everything I've come across by this guy -- brilliant writer IMO; he being most renowned for his Matthew Shardlake historical novels -- set in Henry VIII's later years, and continuing into the next reign: I find, splendidly quirky characters -- most of them, an "as per real life" mix of good and no-so-good, trying to live through what must have been a nightmarish period in history.

I was duly impressed by Dominion; but found it thoroughly depressing -- as was probably Sansom's intention... another "stand-alone" novel by him set in modern-ish times, is Winter in Madrid, set in said city early in World War II. Somehow this one; and the Shardlake series; came across to me as not so unrelentingly dark -- their settings being, in different ways, "bizarro-lands" which seemed to this reader anyway, often horrible, but sometimes daft in an entertaining way. Dominion I found just grim, grim, grim ...
!ink to my Goodreads profile , I'm !looking for like-minded people on my friends list , for rec's.

Funky Tomo77 (funkytomo77) - Halifax, The United Kingdom (597 books) - Goodreads

I've just added you as a "friend" (please don't use my real name/identity on here ;) )

I reakky must start entering what I've read instead of leeching ideas from other people! :crazy:
"City of Lingering Splendour : A Frank Account of Old Peking's Exotic Pleasures", by John Blofeld.

The title of this book may be a bit catchy, but overall it is well worth the read. Basically, it tells of the young John Blofeld's life in the pre-WW2 Chinese city of Beijing, where he worked as an English teacher. The main point of the book resides in his lively description of a traditional Chinese way of life which was already on the wane at that time, and which would finally be completely eradicated by Communist party after 1949. Through the eyes of Blofeld, we get to discover some forgotten communities of the far east such as the white Russians (who had fled the Soviet Union after the civil war in 1917-1921).

Of fortean note, he especially tells of a "Rasputinic" Russian priest, turned into a lama, and then again into a priest, who served as a focus point for his community in Beijing, leading his fellow white Russians in orgiastic rites, and performing small miracles such as producing a light-emitting icon of the Virgin. Unfortunately, not much is told of what this charismatic figure became after the Japanese invasion. We are left to wonder.

Blofeld also speaks extensively of the local mystics, whether from a taoist or buddhist background, and their way of life. As a matter of fact, he would himself end up becoming a sinologist and buddhist practitioner in his later years. So the book tells how he evolved from a naive boy mesmerized by pretty courtesans (hence the title of the book) to a mature man driven towards spiritualty, who got the chance to meet plenty of local hermits and monks before they disapeared from the Chinese landscape.

Refreshing local weirdnesses pop'up here and there in this story, telling for instance of a Chinese "fox spirit" haunting a tree within the inner court of a traditional house. In this account, the fox spirit seems very reminiscent of a kind of "domesticated" poltergeist. Invisible, he has his requirements, and everything goes well as long as they are met by the residing family. But (benign) trouble swiftly comes whenever they are not !

Overall, although only marginally fortean, this is still an immersive book about a forever vanished world of unsuspected depth and wealth, a precious memory of the past. Well worth a read, with a deeply personal touch, as of course, it's the story of the author, and he does not try to hide his sweet and sour love affair with a courtesan, and the "cultural shock" that went along with this adventure.

Unfortunately, this book is not easy to find nowadays ...
Review for Fortean Times.

Off the Edge: Flat Earthers, Conspiracy Culture, and Why People Will Believe Anything
Kelly Weill

List price £21.99 Hardback (BB) ISBN: 9781643750682 Published:18 Apr 2022 Publisher:Algonquin. :256 pages.

Kelly Weill updates the story of the Flat Earth movement, bringing it into the Web and Social Media age, along the way she provides an interesting recap of it’s history. From Victorian grifters like Samuel Rowbothan whose involvement with the Utopian colony, Manera Fen, allowed him to choose an unsuitable site for the settlement just so he could carry out his Flat Earth observations on the Bedford Canal to the notoriously litigious John Hampden who tied alfred Wallace up in court cases for years. Then there’s Wilbur Voliva who ruled the city of Zion, Illinois for decades, turning it into a Theocracy where Flat Earth theory was taught in public schools and elections were rigged. Voliva was media savvy and adapted early to the new medium of radio broadcasting founding the first religious radio station in the U.S. - WCBD. in 1923.

Custody of the Flat Earth message fell into the hands of pranksters who set up a fake website in 1998. But Robbie Davidson the founder of the Flat Earth International Conference (FEIC) came to his beliefs via the 9/11 Truther Movement. The Flat Earth Society (FES) itself is more moderate but maintains a low profile online since its rebirth in 2004 .Davison admits that he’s never even met a member of the Society, Rob Skiba who spoke at the 2018 FEIC accused the FES of being a Government run operation,

Online the Flat Earth message co-exists within a morass of Anti-vaxxer, Anti-Semitic and White Supremacist beliefs. Even alien conspiracy theorists upload Flat Earth videos on youtube and run a Flat Earth compound in Brazil, US citizens have moved to this UFO City. Some Flat Earthers believe that a cloned Adolf Hitler lives in New Berlin, Antarctica, others regard the Holocaust as a fakes. There are even Flat Earther Nazi rap songs. The Daily Stormer founder Andrew Anglin started a virtual civil war on the site when he mocked Flat earth beliefs.

There is a full chapter about Mike Hughes and his homemade rocket, Mike died tragically when his rocket crashed during an attempt to validate the Flat Earth Theory. Well regarded Mike as a friend and doesn’t mock him. But she has nothing but scorn for the Flat Earther pharmacist Steven Brandenburg who sabotaged COVID-19 vaccines because he believed the sky is a shield put up by the government to prevent individuals from seeing god.

A rounded history of the Flat Earth Belief system which necessarily places its latest incarnations in context within the online swamp of conspiracy theories.

Páiric Ó’Corráin Four Stars out of Five.
New book out from Philip Mantle on some of the lesser-known UFO landings in the UK:


Delayed by COVID (hence the 2020 publication date) and with a documentary to follow, Philip explains all on:


Now added to my ever-growing list for the summer holidays, it includes the 1963 Headless Bat Creature of Sandling, Kent which featured in FT 374 and was one of several 'lights in the sky and humanoid creature' sightings from that area by groups of teenagers over a period of time in late 1963.(I stumbled across an online archive BUFORA record of these encounters from that period of time but now can't find it again).
Very interesting, those young people mentioned a horrible 'stench' coming from this strange figure, that's something I haven't read before.
And what a long list of UFO sightings worldwide, in 1963!
Yes, my first thought was Bigfoot - but I wasn't aware that Bigfoot sightings occurred in the UK?
Read Nick Redfern’s early work, including those from whilst he still lived in the UK:


“In Search of a British Man-Beast: The huge forests of the United States are home to Sasquatch. The Abominable Snowman roams the Himalayas. Australia has a similar beast, the Yowie. In China there lurks a giant, bipedal creature called the Yeren. From the Caucasus Mountains in Eurasia stories of the Almas circulate. And then there's the highly controversial matter of Bigfoot in Britain. For years, Nick Redfern has been on the trail of this mystifying monster of the British kind - one that provokes fear, amazement and controversy whenever it rears its horrific, hairy head. The Shug-Monkey, the Beast of Bolam, the Big Grey Man, the Man-Monkey, and the Wild Man of Orford are just a few of its many names.”



”Between 1986 and early 2001, Nick Redfern delved deeply into the mystery of the strange creature of that dark stretch of canal. Now,published for the very first time, are Nick's original interview notes, his files and discoveries; as well as his theories pertaining to what lies at the heart of this diabolical legend. Is Britain really home to a Bigfoot-style entity? Does the creature have supernatural origins? Or is it something else entirely? Nick Redfern addresses all of these questions in Man-Monkey and reveals a story that is as bizarre as it is macabre.”

He concludes whatever “it” is, it’s paranormal and not flesh and blood
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Just got a promotional email to say that they're down to the last few signed hardbacks of this:

City of the Beast presents an enthralling psychogeography of a London that is irrevocably lost. Piccadilly Circus was once deemed to be the absolute centre of the British Empire, and it and its immediately surrounding streets with their grand hotels, restaurants, cigar shops, gunsmiths and prostitutes were the favourite stamping ground of the tweed-knickerbocker-clad occultist Aleister Crowley. But Phil Baker’s thorough researches have also led him to other dimly lit streets that were thronged with Bohemians, charlatans, spongers, drug addicts, spiritualist cranks, would-be femmes fatales, yet more prostitutes and astral phantoms – so many lost souls. The map even extends to such territories as ‘Battersea, supreme word of malignity in the tongue of the pit’ (as Crowley had it). A brilliant book.
– Robert Irwin
Aleister Crowley, “The Great Beast”, infamous author and occultist, had a love-hate relationship with London, but it was where he spent much of his adult life, and it was the capital of the culture that created him.
City of the Beast is not a walking guide, although many routes could be pieced together from its pages. It is a biography by sites, revealing a man, an era, and a city. Fusing life-writing with psychogeography, steeped in London’s social history from Victoria to the Blitz, it draws extensively on unpublished material and offers an exceptionally intimate picture of the Beast.
Through 93 locations, we follow Crowley searching for prostitutes in Hyde Park and Pimlico, drinking absinthe and eating Chinese food in Soho, and finding himself down on his luck in Paddington Green – but never quite losing sight of the illumination that drove him: “the abiding rapture,” he wrote in his diary, “which makes a ‘bus in the street sound like an angel choir!”

On sale here:

See here for my preview (it's a lovely book and full of interest):