By the Book

Cosette N. Kies. The Occult in the Western World: An Annotated Bibliography. Mansell, 1986.

There have been several recent attempts at comprehensive bibliographies of the occult and paranormal in the past few years, most of which have suffered from trying to be too comprehensive, pouring everything from kiddies' books on UFOs to scholarly tomes on Eastern mysticism into one indigestible and unhelpful mélange.

Cosette Kies defines her range: "Certain areas are treated - only in a rather cursory way... These include primitive religions, classical Mythology, Eastern religions, legerdemain, Pentecostalism and mystical branches of the accepted major religions... Emphasis has been placed on material suitable for reference such as dictionaries, bibliographies and encyclopedias, Only a few juvenile titles are provided, and only those those contents are substantive."

These are sensible restrictions, and as a result the book is of far more practical use than its predecessors, The editor's annotations are short and to the point, making it clear whether or not a book will be of further interest, without polemic or flannel. As with most bibliographic works nowadays the price is high, but it is certainly no worse than most, [but see latest Amazon links below] and the book's practical approach and emphasis on recent material makes it worthwhile for librarians and serious readers. -- John Rimmer, from Magonia 25, March 1987.


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