More Than Just a Catalogue

Peter Brookesmith. UFO: The Complete Sighting Catalogue. Blandford, 1995.
As he is a contributor to Magonia. and the writer of an embarrassingly fulsome panegyric to your editor and his gallant little team in the most recent issue of The Ley Hunter, we ungrateful wretches were naturally looking for a chance to slag off Brookesmith's latest opus as soon as it fell into our grubby hands, just to show how splendidly unbiased we are.

lt was harder than I though. The large, pictorial format can of course be sneered at as 'coffee-table', However, for once the illustrations are relevant to the topic, with few luridly coloured 'artists impressions' of sensational cases - most of the illustrations are black-and-white photographs. These include some photographs which are obvious fakes. Unfortunately for us old cynics, when this is the case, Brookesmith clearly labels them as obvious fakes - he's even pretty sound on the not-so-obvious fakes.

The book is divided into chapters covering historical periods in the development of the UFO myth, with key cases being described in some detail, giving background, an account of the events as reported, and usually concluding with the author's own assessment.

Little chance for sneers here, either, as in all cases the assessments represent a sound summary of the available facts. If it's a fake he says so, if there is a natural explanation it is given. Most importantly, if we just have no idea what happened, Brookesmith also makes this clear, without blowing it up into an extraterrestrial mystery.

I suppose I could complain that the cases are given with no references to sources. Most the reports will be familiar to seasoned Magonians. but as the book is probably aimed at the less seasoned reader
some indication of the origins of the tales would be welcome (I criticised the appalling Mantle and Nagaitis book for this, so I can 't let Brookesmith off without a slapped wrist).

He rounds it off with a series of appendices in the form of short essays looking at general topics such as abductions and 'where do they come from?' which to my great disappointment would all probably fit very well into our own dear Magonia. So, it's a pretty good book. If someone wanted to read just one book to find out what Urology is all about I don't think they could go far wrong with this.

Oh, the bell with this elaborate pose of world weary cynicism: it's a bloody good UFO book which I will probably find a very useful reference work; and I thought that even before I saw he's put me in the 'Who's Who of Ufology' section. And it's got an index - all us librarians like that. -- John Rimmer

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