Though not every mystery (the movement of lead coffins in the Chase vault, the identity of robber D.B. Cooper) is solved as promised, author Jack (Red Herrings and White Elephants: The Origins of the Phrases We Use Every Day) does a remarkable job explaining a great many strange phenomena in this compulsive read. Tackling more than 30 mysteries big (the Bermuda Triangle) and small (a flat, straight stretch of autobahn that causes crashes), Jack gets right to the crux of the matter, exposing a great many hoaxes. That grainy, infamous video footage of Bigfoot? Fake. The equally grainy snapshot of a surfacing Loch Ness Monster? Most likely a bathing circus elephant. Crop circles? Less a hoax than an art form. Not everything can be traced to mischievous individuals with time to kill: the disappearance of big band leader Glenn Miller is now credited to friendly fire; the rational explanation for the disappearance of the Mary Celeste crew is just as satisfying as the numerous supernatural theories posited. Conspiracy theorists may be disappointed, but skeptics and armchair explorers will find this engrossing and witty, though probably all too short.
Reviewed on: 03/09/2009 Release date: 03/01/2009
Mass Market Paperbound - 272 pages - 978-0-14-103781-3