UFO CHRONICLES OF THE SOVIET UNION

A COSMIC SAMIZDAT

Newsworthy brief by ufologist Vallee (Confrontations, 1990, etc.) on how the Iron Curtain hid from Western eyes not only a people in chains but also perhaps a star-fleet's worth of UFOs and their bug-eyed occupants. It was on the heels of the notorious Voronezh sightings of 1989 and the first warm breezes of glasnost that Vallee was invited by the Soviet press agency Novosti to visit the USSR to meet with leading Soviet ufologists. In this chronological account of that trip, the author blends pungent travelogue with crisp science reporting, noting, for instance, that ``the depression that engulfs you as you get closer to the Soviet Union is not a delusion....It was as if light itself had been confiscated. There was a dreary blanket over the airport buildings, the dusty air, the people themselves.'' Yet upon his arrival Vallee found myriad scientists eager to exchange notes—an ironic result, he realized, of ``censorship itself,'' which had forced Soviet ufology into ``unofficial networks'' where it flourished. In sit-downs with Soviet researchers, he discussed in detail the Tunguska explosion of 1908 (perhaps caused by destruction of a nuclear-powered craft), the Voronezh incidents, and about 40 other close encounters, and marvelled at the widespread Soviet technique of ``biolocation''—a kind of dowsing of ``biological fields''—to investigate UFOs. He also visited the cosmonauts' training center, learning—and here reporting apparently for the first time in the West—that Yuri Gagarin was drunk when he fatally crashed his airplane. And, gratifyingly, Vallee found considerable Soviet interest in his core theory that UFOs are extradimensional, not extraterrestrial. A ``preliminary catalogue'' of Soviet UFO sightings appends the text. An intriguing example of glasnost in action and an important ufological document opening up rich new veins of exploration for researchers and buffs alike. (Eight-page photo insert—not seen.)

Pub Date: March 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-345-37396-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1992

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

THE ART OF SOLITUDE

A teacher and scholar of Buddhism offers a formally varied account of the available rewards of solitude.

“As Mother Ayahuasca takes me in her arms, I realize that last night I vomited up my attachment to Buddhism. In passing out, I died. In coming to, I was, so to speak, reborn. I no longer have to fight these battles, I repeat to myself. I am no longer a combatant in the dharma wars. It feels as if the course of my life has shifted onto another vector, like a train shunted off its familiar track onto a new trajectory.” Readers of Batchelor’s previous books (Secular Buddhism: Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World, 2017, etc.) will recognize in this passage the culmination of his decadeslong shift away from the religious commitments of Buddhism toward an ecumenical and homegrown philosophy of life. Writing in a variety of modes—memoir, history, collage, essay, biography, and meditation instruction—the author doesn’t argue for his approach to solitude as much as offer it for contemplation. Essentially, Batchelor implies that if you read what Buddha said here and what Montaigne said there, and if you consider something the author has noticed, and if you reflect on your own experience, you have the possibility to improve the quality of your life. For introspective readers, it’s easy to hear in this approach a direct response to Pascal’s claim that “all of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Batchelor wants to relieve us of this inability by offering his example of how to do just that. “Solitude is an art. Mental training is needed to refine and stabilize it,” he writes. “When you practice solitude, you dedicate yourself to the care of the soul.” Whatever a soul is, the author goes a long way toward soothing it.

A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-25093-0

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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