The Mask of Nostradamus: A Critical Biography of the World's Most Famous Prophet

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this breezy but effective biographical study, magician and self-appointed debunker Randi takes aim at Michel de Notredame, better known as Nostradamus, the famous 16th-century French physician, astrologer and seer. Commentators claim that Nostradamus's cryptic verses accurately prophesied such events and personalities as Napoleon, Hitler, the French Revolution, the Great Fire of London and the invention of the Montgolfier balloon. Nonsense, argues Randi, and his meticulous readings of key quatrains make a potent case for his contention that the seer's alleged clairvoyant abilities rest on translators' embellishments, interpreters' excessive reliance on anagrams and ``hidden'' names, distortions and wishful thinking. Despite its overkill in challenging all prophecy and the occult in general, this hard-hitting critique throws down a gauntlet that no one with a serious interest in Nostradamus can ignore. Photos not seen by PW. (Aug.)
Library Journal
In the 16th century, Michel de Notredame (i.e., Nostradamus) captivated the Queen of France with some 940 prediction-packed quatrains, and these predictions continue to intrigue. Randi thinks he used ``time-honored rules'' like these: Describe things that have happened in the past. Make them a little vague. Put the date in the future. Something like them will happen again. Add some events everyone knows are very likely. Then add many, many highly improbable events; one or two will come true. Randi is a magician and an old hand at debunking who knows that supermarket tabloid seers do well when just over one percent of their guesses are right. He also tells us a lot--and tells it amusingly--about 16th-century medicine, the Inquisition, and all sorts of soothsayers. There is lots of fun in this book, something most of its numerous competitors lack, but readers may still wonder why Nostradamus triumphed over his rivals (who numbered 30,000, according to Randi), how a lightly converted Jew escaped the prophet-hating Inquisition, and how he still manages to stay ahead of the others.-- Leslie Armour, Univ. of Ottawa
School Library Journal
YA-- An in-depth analysis and research into the writings of Nostradamus and his followers. Randi investigates and exposes the questionable and sometimes fraudulent claims of those who profess to possess supernatural powers and/or perform supernatural works. He explores the life and times of Nostradamus, examining the conditions that pervaded the lives of ordinary people and of the nobility. He discusses how the belief in astrology became widespread and popularized. The integration of the historical perspective makes the book interesting and informative. In addition to examining the writings pertaining to Nostradamus, the author references other seers throughout history.-- Jeanette M. Lippencott, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684190563
  • Publisher: Cengage Gale
  • Publication date: 9/1/1990
  • Pages: 320

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