In 1848 the Fox sisters, living near Rochester, New York, began modern spiritualism by producing a series of "raps" or "knocks", supposedly from the spirit world, through which communication could be maintained. The public's interest was captured, and soon an overwhelming desire to communicate with departed loved ones led to the devising of other methods of communicating with the spirits.
Spiritualism spread rapidly both in Britain and in the United States, with mediums setting up shop everywhere. Some mediums were obvious charlatans, while others were highly skilled conjurors. Some sincerely believed they had psychic power. Gradually, a number of the more skillful mediums gained reputations that brought them national and international fame. Among these "superstars" was Daniel Dunglas Home, recognized as one of the finest mediums of the nineteenth-century.
Scientists of the time remained aloof about the phenomena of spiritualism, unwilling to attend seances or examine the phenomena under controlled conditions. A rare exception was Sir William Crookes, a chemist and physicist who was roundly ridiculed by many of his fellow scientists for his five-year investigation of a number of important spiritualists and mediums, including Daniel Dunglas Home, Florence Cook, and Anna Eva Fay. Although many were later proven to be frauds, Daniel Dunglas Home was able to escape detection - until now.
The Sorcerer of Kings takes readers inside the testing procedures of Crookes to explore just what his investigation entailed. What made Sir William a believer? How could so many other mediums fall victim to their own gimmicks, while Home successfully overcame efforts to expose him? Noted researcher Gordon Stein unwraps this century-old mystery to reach startling new conclusions about a man whose "powers" were eagerly sought on two continents, and the man of science who attempted to find him out once and for all.
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