Surviving the Impossible
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An award-winning Canadian author uncovers spiritual guardians who aid those in states of crisis.

Globe and Mail editorial board director Geiger (Nothing Is True, Everything Is Permitted: The Life of Brion Gysin, 2005, etc.) presents dozens of examples of people who have encountered an unseen presence, or, as T.S. Eliot wrote in The Wasteland, “the third who walks always beside you.” Typically, the “Third Man” is either sensed or manifests in a shadowy formation appearing amid hopeless circumstances proffering words of encouragement and direction. Ron DiFrancesco, one of the last survivors to escape the South Tower on 9/11, chronicles an unseen “benevolent helper” who guided him down through a fiery, smoke-choked stairwell and disappeared soon after. Crushed by an avalanche, a mountain climber received inspiration from an “invisible being” who led him to safety. A panicked diver lost sight of her guideline within a maze of undersea caves and was inexplicably guided to the surface. Members of a doomed Antarctic expedition describe their encounter as having “spiritual significance.” Geiger also writes of sailors cast adrift, biblical theologians, lonesome widowers and postpartum women, all of whom claim that their individual rescues were caused by angelic interaction. Even famed aviator Charles Lindbergh reported seeing friendly “phantoms,” though a psychological evaluation attributed his claim to monotony and boredom. The phenomenon’s counterpoint suggests stress, depression-induced hallucinations, malnutrition, social stagnancy and extreme environmental exposure as probable contributors to the appearance of the Third Man. Geiger evenhandedly presents both sides of this mysterious anomaly in clear, concise language. Ultimately, he labels the Third Man an “instrument of hope...the belief—the understanding—that we are not alone.”

An intelligent rendering of a chilling phenomenon.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-60286-107-7
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Weinstein Books
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2009