A bit unfocused, but solid on the details of Rhine’s life and work.



A sympathetic, somewhat rambling history of parapsychology investigations at Duke University.

All Things Considered contributor Horn (The Restless Sleep: Inside New York City’s Cold Case Squad, 2005, etc.) begins in the mid-1920s, when J.B. Rhine and his wife Louisa arrived in Boston to research psychic phenomena. Their scathing exposé of the popular medium Mina Crandon set off a storm among believers in the occult; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle bought ads in the Boston papers declaring Rhine to be “an ass.” The protests brought Rhine to the attention of John Thomas, a public-school administrator who had lost his wife and was trying to establish contact with her spirit. Thomas arranged for Rhine to join the psychology department at Duke, where he would remain for nearly 40 years. Horn gives the broad outlines of Rhine’s basic work, most of which involved experiments in which students tried to guess which of five symbols appeared on a card chosen from a deck. Especially in the early years, his researchers achieved some provocative results that drew widespread press attention and floods of mail from those seeking advice. Rhine was determined to produce scientifically sound work, the author notes. As a result, he declined to investigate many of the cases brought to his attention by the public, specifically those involving ghosts, poltergeists and other phenomena that could not be subjected to rigorous experimental conditions. Horn looks at several psychics who injected themselves into murder investigations, although Rhine had little to do with those cases. Ironically, despite Rhine’s insistence on scientific rigor, his work was frequently challenged for inadequate statistical analysis and insufficient safeguards against cheating. In latter days, his backers grew impatient with his failure to find proof of the afterlife, and funding dwindled. He left behind some intriguing results and many unanswered questions about how the mind works.

A bit unfocused, but solid on the details of Rhine’s life and work.

Pub Date: March 10, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-06-111685-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2009

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


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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Honest messages from one of America's best known women.


A compilation of advice from the Queen of All Media.

After writing a column for 14 years titled “What I Know For Sure” for O, The Oprah Winfrey Magazine, Winfrey brings together the highlights into one gift-ready collection. Grouped into themes like Joy, Resilience, Connection, Gratitude, Possibility, Awe, Clarity and Power, each short essay is the distilled thought of a woman who has taken the time to contemplate her life’s journey thus far. Whether she is discussing traveling across the country with her good friend, Gayle, the life she shares with her dogs or building a fire in the fireplace, Winfrey takes each moment and finds the good in it, takes pride in having lived it and embraces the message she’s received from that particular time. Through her actions and her words, she shows readers how she's turned potentially negative moments into life-enhancing experiences, how she's found bliss in simple pleasures like a perfectly ripe peach, and how she's overcome social anxiety to become part of a bigger community. She discusses the yo-yo dieting, exercise and calorie counting she endured for almost two decades as she tried to modify her physical body into something it was not meant to be, and how one day she decided she needed to be grateful for each and every body part: "This is the body you've been given—love what you've got." Since all of the sections are brief and many of the essays are only a couple paragraphs long—and many members of the target audience will have already read them in the magazine—they are best digested in short segments in order to absorb Winfrey's positive and joyful but repetitive message. The book also features a new introduction by the author.

Honest messages from one of America's best known women.

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-1250054050

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Flatiron View Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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