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Death: The Great Mystery of Life Hardcover – August 27, 2002


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This latest offering from Brennan, an Irish writer of nonfiction (The Martian Genesis) and children's books (Frankenstella and the Video Store Monster), is a study of death from a variety of angles. A historical chapter on the devastation caused by the bubonic plague is informative and interesting, as is the author's coverage of the Ebola virus and of modern dangers associated with the overuse of antibiotics. Brennan also includes a thoughtful overview of the ways various religions regard death and immortality. But when he turns his attention to ghosts, mediums, out-of-body experiences (OOBE) and other psychic phenomena which are clearly his chief interest more skeptical readers may raise an eyebrow. Brennan has done a number of experiments using hypnosis to trigger OOBE in subjects and the results of these, along with examples done by others in the field, are used to support his arguable conclusion that "there is a substantial body of evidence to suggest the second body everyone experiences during an OOBE is something more than a subjective reality." In addition, Brennan details a theoretical account of the death experience that is based on a murky merge of Tibetan religious beliefs and testimonials from those who have survived near-death encounters. The author's claim that actual death is characterized by "calm, freedom from pain, the possibility of continuity..." will reassure believers and irritate rationalists.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Brennan explores death in every way possible, it seems, rewarding readers who persevere through the opening discussion of probable contemporary causes of death --"you might be killed by a soft-drink machine as happened to fifteen Americans . . . during the 1980s"--with a thumbnail history of the plague, two chapters on the history of the afterlife, a discussion of cloning ("Heirs and Spares") rife with portent in the post-Ted Williams world, and more. His disquisition on ghosts notes notable ghost sightings and the possibility that "time slips" are in fact what observers experienced, concluding that "there is considerable evidence that something of this sort exists." In the chapter "Phantoms of the Living," he considers whether out-of-body experiences, of which evidence abounds, indicate the existence of a "second body" that "separates from the first" at death and supports consciousness thereafter. If they do, is this "an additional basis for confidence in postmortem survival?" Heady, engrossing stuff that may make readers strangely eager to die and find out whether Brennan's conclusions hold up. Mike Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Carroll & Graf; First Edition edition (August 27, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786710446
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786710447
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,694,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A professional writer whose work has appeared in more than fifty countries, Herbie Brennan is enjoyed by children and adults alike -- sales of his books already exceed 8 million copies.

Herbie has an well-established career writing for the children's market -- from picture books to teenage fiction, from game books to school curriculum non-fiction. His keen eye for novelty, both in technology and market development, made him among the very first writers to create adventure gamebooks and his GrailQuest series was an international bestseller.

His teenage novel, Faerie Wars, also rocketed to international success, achieving best-seller status in more than 20 overseas editions, and was voted No 1 Top Ten Teenage Pick in the United States and listed as a New York Times Best Seller title.

Equally prolific in the adult market, Herbie has a powerful reputation for challenging conventional assumptions with penetrating intelligence and a clear, easy style. This is reflected in his interests, which range from transpersonal psychology, spirituality, reincarnation and psychical research to comparative religion and quantum physics. His reappraisal of ancient history has stirred lively debate on TV and radio as well as in the Press. He broadcasts and lectures regularly throughout the UK and Ireland.

Herbie became interested in mysticism as a child and was studying books on the subject virtually from the time he was able to read. He found himself pursuing several unorthodox lines of research, including hypnosis, and actually hypnotised his first subject -- a school friend -- at the age of nine!

He began a journalistic career at eighteen and at twenty-four became the youngest newspaper editor in his native Ireland. His early career path included magazine work, hypnotherapy, counselling, advertising and market¬ing.

His first book, Astral Doorways, an exploration of out-of-body experience, became a specialist best-seller and went on to become a classic in its field -- it is still in print some thirty-five years on.

In his mid twenties, Herbie had his first novel published, an historical romance brought out by Doubleday in New York. At the age of thirty he decided to devote most of his time to writing and has since gone on to produce more than 100 books, many of them international best-sellers.

When he can be persuaded to take a break from his writing, Herbie give lectures and seminars, which have included modules on reincarnation research, the astral plane, dreamwork, healing, spiritual development, psychical research, quantum physics and magical training..

With a background that includes writing for radio, the creation of boxed games and computer software, perhaps his greatest strength lies in the realm ideas, particularly in the diversification of publishing product into electronic form.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ms. Rita Kelly on December 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover
A fascinating, intriguing book. I was unable to stop reading it the moment I started. Such an amount of material, history, thought, religion, practice and custom, philosophy and metaphysics practically from the dawn of the written word, or the scratched image on the cave wall. I have never found such clear, concise and wonderfully accessible accounts of the fundamentals of the thoughts and studies which have changed the whole world for centuries. The writing is totally engaging. What a challenging subject indeed, what courage in taking it on; the amazing thing is that Brennan transfers that courage to us, the readers, as we proceed through the book. An amazing compendium on a subject which greatly concentrates the mind. Bravo.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Daphne on February 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I found this book VERY well put togehther. It followed a train of thought about life,leads to death and then looks at the question of afterlife. Some of the life questions I found more then I needed to know when I was trying to understand death.
It looks at these states from many angles and beliefs. This is what I liked about the book the best was where our beliefs maybe originated about death. The flow and continual tie in of thoughts keeps everything together. I felt it was well researched and worth reading.
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