There's something joyfully fascinating about the Unknown.
Since earliest times we humans have been thrilled and chilled by things we can not understand--weather, death, the movement of stars and planets, even the darkness of night.
In order to cope with these great terrors, myths and legends were born--dragons and ghosts and winged beings from heavenly realms.
Even today, as we enter the new millennium, the old fears remain--haunting reminders of a dark and uncertain past, a past teeming with secrets and mysteries too awesome and frightening to contemplate. Instead of dragons and ghosts and lost civilizations like Atlantis, however, modern terrors include UFOs, tropical plagues and killer asteroids from the far reaches of space.
Anyone who thinks we have outgrown our old fears and fascination for the Unknown need only visit a bookstore or tune in to cable television. Many of these popular books and programs deal with angels, ghosts, lost civilizations, UFOs, doomsday comets and other mysteries.
Wouldn't it be wonderful, I used to muse, if someone came along and did a book about the most compelling mysteries--a kind of no-nonsense compendium that gives us a brief but thorough overview of the world's greatest mysteries of science, religion, folklore and history?
Fortunately, such a book has now appeared--E. Randall Floyd's startlingly clear and concise 100 of the World's Greatest Mysteries: Strange Secrets of the Past Revealed. From the Big Bang and rise of man to death-dealing asteroids and spontaneous human combustion, this book covers them all, an amazing range of facts, figures and compelling human drama, all told from a seasoned journalist's perspective.
Mr. Floyd, a former European correspondent for United Press International, professor of history, motion pictures screenwriter and author of more than a dozen best-selling books, says the idea for the book originated with his nationally syndicated newspaper column, Strange Encounters.
"I would get letters from people all the time asking if such a book were available,"
Mr. Floyd notes. "These were serious readers looking for a book full of facts and figures, not outlandish claims, hoaxes and junk theories like you find in so much New Age stuff."
Mr. Floyd spent five years researching and writing the book.
The usual topics are included--Atlantis, Stonehenge, Bigfoot, the Bermuda Triangle and sea serpents--as well as strange disappearances, mysterious skyfalls, fabled creatures, elaborate hoaxes and near-death-experiences. Category titles are especially appealing--like Fin, Fang & Fantasy; Into the Unknown; Heavenly Fires; Heavenly Fates; Spectral Incursions; Hoaxes & Outlandish Claims.
What is refreshingly different about this book is the way Mr. Floyd presents the information.
"I approached this material the way any good journalist would," Mr. Floyd explains.
"I wanted to present the facts and let the reader draw his own conclusion about each case."