Top critical review
depends on what you're looking for
Reviewed in the United States on June 19, 2007
If you want a historical overview of the life of the first group of men (and one woman) who attempted to apply scientific method to supernatural or paranormal phenomena, this is your book. If you are interested in the life and times of these folks, their family background, their wives, their illnesses, their spats and squabbles, this is your book. If you want a snapshot of Victorian life, especially the low-tech contraptions and Oscar-worthy performances from the shysters who made a good living in this business, this is your book.
But if you want succint factual description of their methods or the results they obtained, you'll be frustrated, cuz that info is distributed all over the book in bits and pieces. This book is more about the men themselves than about the phenomena they investigated.
But here's the bottom line: 95% of the reports they investigated were fraud, and the majority of that tantalizing other 5% were apt to cheat too, when they could get away with it. They really only came across one person whose "gifts" continued to stand up to their scrutiny year after year.
And so, the conclusion seems to be that true paranormal or supernatural phenomena are exceedingly rare, but do indeed exist.