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The Book of the Damned: The Collected Works of Charles Fort Paperback – May 1, 2008

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 18 and up
  • Grade Level: 12 and up
  • Paperback: 1136 pages
  • Publisher: Tarcher; 1st Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin Collected Ed edition (May 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585426415
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585426416
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 5.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #389,172 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jim Steinmeyer is the critically acclaimed author of The Glorious Deception, Charles Fort, and Hiding the Elephant, a Los Angeles Times bestseller. He is also a leading designer of magic illusion who has done work for television, Broadway, and many of the best-known names in modern magic. He lives in Los Angeles, CA.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Zekeriyah VINE VOICE on June 9, 2008
Format: Paperback
I feel obliged to disagree with the previous reviewer. Fort is not hard to read, in fact quite the opposite, but he is a product of a different era. Therefore, his work should be read for what it is - a massive collection of tabloid-esque miscellanea, liberally salted with Fort's trademark cynicism, humor and wit. You could just as easily flip through it and get sucked into the more interesting parts as you could read the whole bloody things through word for word, and you'd still come out at the same place. There really isn't a lot of linear plot or anything going on here. In fact, for those of the younger generations, you might be tempted to think of it as something of a blog, and in a sense, thats really what Fort did.

For those not in the know, the late Charles Fort was a compiler of oddities - teleportation, spontaneous human combustion, poltergeists, UFOs, out-of-place animals and of course, frogs falling from the sky during storms (a phenomena which he attributed to floating "Sargasso Seas" in the sky which sucked in, and occasionally dropped off, all manner of lost objects - not just frogs, in fact). Fort essentially criticized the presumption that humans can ever truly know or define the universe, and his work could be described as pseudo-scientific, but then you also should take it with a grain of salt. After all, he is credited with saying something along the lines that he never believed anything, especially not what he had written himself. Typical Fortean humor at it's best, and a good word of advice in general. All in all, theres over a thousand pages chock full of enough general weirdness to keep even the wackiest cranks happy... at least for a while.

So what's in this monumental work?
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Cameron-Smith TOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book contains all four of Charles Fort's books: `The Book of the Damned'; `New Lands'; `Lo!'; and `Wild Talents'. `By the damned', wrote Charles Fort, `I mean the excluded. We shall have a procession of data that Science excluded.' And in these four books (or processions) we have a feat of recorded events of bizarre, strange and inexplicable anomalies for which science could not fully account. And what are these recorded events? They include frogs falling from the sky during storms, monsters, teleportation, poltergeists, and floating islands. They include people who disappear; people who reappear; and people who spontaneously combust.

This is an engrossing compilation of miscellaneous attention-grabbing events, approached with both belief and scepticism, and blended with scholarship and humour.
How to read this massive book? I'm pleased that I took Jim Steinmeyer's advice to read `Lo!' (the third book) first. By the time I got (back) to `Book of the Damned', I was totally engrossed. Fort's writing is humorous, cynical and witty. In Fort's view, it is not possible for humans to fully know or define the universe. I especially like his statement that: `There is something wrong with everything that is popular.' Whether or not this is always true, popularity certainly does not guarantee `truth'.

The collection of oddities compiled by Charles Fort is fascinating and it is possible to simply enjoy the descriptions without wondering about how and why these events took place. Fort's floating `Sargasso Seas' in the sky as a means of sucking in and dropping of frogs (and other objects) is as good as any other explanation for frogs falling from skies during storms. The fact that we can't explain all events doesn't mean that we shouldn't look for explanations to examine, accept or reject. Now that I have read Fort's writings, I am keen to read more about Fort himself.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By J. Enright on June 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
I too must disagree with the reviewer who finds Fort a difficult read. Fort wrote to a different literary standard. Enjoying Fort is a matter of adjustment. Otherwise, Fort's often convoluted and occasionally obfuscated style hides a wicked sense of humor and a visionary sense of wonder. When one puts Fort's underlying message, that the universe is a single construct and that everything is related, into the context that Fort wrote half a century before such ideas became widespread, Fort's genius begins to shine.

The sheer volume of research represented by this compendium is astonishing. And it is clear that Fort not only gathered odd reports, but contemplated them extensively as well.

This is a classic must-read that should be standard high school fare.
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47 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 28, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
Long before I had ever read this book I had heard the title and was familiar with the name of the author. For some reason every so often this book is referred to in many different contexts so I was curious about what it contained.

I'll take the mystery of the book away immediately. Mr. Fort maintains that there is a whole body of "facts" that exist out in the world that are excluded from serious scientific consideration simply because they do not fit with the paradigms of contemporary scientific knowledge. He calls these bits of information "damned". So there, that is the premise of the entire book.

As one reads the book it becomes obvious that Mr. Fort was not writing in the context of modern science of the 21st century. His own personal scientific method is deeply flawed and relies on legends, folk stories, myth, hearsay and gossip. Much of what he discusses is downright silly by modern standards and many of the mysteries that he refers to have been solved a long time ago at this point.

The writing style is that of an amateur. The book is difficult to read because it is probably four times longer then it would be if the author didn't wildly inflate every description he provides. He could have made all of his major points in a brief pamphet and the reader of that pamphlet would acquire all of useful arguments of the book. But apparently his goal was to produce a sizeworthy tome in order to impress readers.
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