Anticipated publication: August 11, 2014
Source: Publisher. I received this book in consideration for an honest review.
Guys. I can’t even. I…I’ll start here — This book had me at its synopsis:
Channeled by a psychic medium and written in interview format, this book takes readers on a unique journey with 22 spirits who were famous (or infamous) during their time on earth. Renowned personalities from 600 b.c. to 2011 a.d.—from Charlemagne, Ben Franklin, and Gandhi to Walt Disney, Kurt Vonnegut, and Steve Jobs—have returned to share their most important messages with us. Their passing led them to understand their life lessons and the ramifications of their choices. And now, with the clear-eyed vision gained only from the Other Side, they’re taking center stage one last time to offer us insights into their lives that they didn’t possess while they were here.
Sounds AMAZEBALLSright?! I was all…
…when I took it up. The “About the Author” section blew me a-fucking-way. She tells us she has been battling with illness since her teenage years, is a lawyer, and ultimately was in a coma, which is when some spirited friends (!!!) paid her a visit:
Four months [after the coma], the surprise my spirit guides promised appeared – Ben Franklin showed up in my kitchen. Thus began the parade of spirits clamoring for an interview…when [my book] was finished, I entered it in a contest with Hay House – and won a publishing contract. No agent, no rejections, just a book contract.
Any normal person would have been all:
Not Susan! If that isn’t proof that there’s some crazy shit out in the universe I don’t know wha—well, maybe it’s just an indicator that Hay House may not be in business much longer. Although, the rumor mill says they ARE publishing a sequel. Anyway, here’s hoping they stay in business long enough to give yours truly a book deal!
I’m not being hateful, I promise. Like I said, I was very excited to read this. What would Gandhi think of Twitter? Would Walt Disney personally apologize to me for his company treating me as an indentured servant? Would Patrick Swayze remember that time we made eye contact in Whole Foods?? Okay, maybe that one was a dream. Anyway. TELL ME YOUR SECRETS SPIRIT WORLD!
WARNING: If you do not want your magical sense of innocence and whimsy ruined, I beg you to skip this next section!
Ruining Your Dreams
Imagine my disappointment when I actually became BORED with this book. A couple of chapters in it became apparent that Susan Lander, Esq. was using this format as an excuse to preach her own vision and values to the world.
Don’t misunderstand me! I agree heartily with her ideas. The long and the short of it is we need to love more and live in harmony. Think hippie/libertarian/psychotic break politics. Redistribute wealth! Love yourself and others! Anger is useless! War is dumb! Equality! Like I said, it’s a legit message that I can appreciate. It should be said more often. And much louder. I believe Conversations with History is an especially effective way to communicate this message because the target audience for this piece of work could probably stand to have some wisdom laid down on them.
It is now safe to return if you want to continue wearing your magical-wonderland-glasses throughout life.
Anyway, 22 dead celebrities drop in and chat about love, believing in YOU, hard work, etc. As previously discussed, all very good stuff, but it gets a trifle boring. I am a child of the 21st century and I require constant interjections of cat gifs and puns to stay engaged!
Since entertainment was lacking, I ended up letting my mind wander and re-imagine what Susan had already imagined, i.e. what these dead celebrities were really trying to say to us. Sure, Henry Ford says love and money are connected, but is the subtext that is he’s dying to hook up with Steve Jobs? Twenty-two is too many to go through in this post, so I’ll just pick out a few of my favorites.
Susan gives us the word-for-word communication. Now, I present to you the deep and important nuances of these interviews.
Abbie Hoffman – Presented in history as an antiwar activist in the Vietnam era, his interview leads me to believe he’s most likely a double agent for The Man. All this hippie-dippy-power-to-the-people stuff is merely a smoke screen for his nefarious plots. What I glean from the interview is that there is no free will. Per Hoffman, all our current ideas are put into our heads by dead hippies:
We are putting the energy into the collective consciousness from the Other Side, and people “catch” the ideas.
Sure, he claims the ideas we catch are about peace…OR ARE THEY?! I just don’t trust this guy. As a result, I want to catch his ideas about as much as I want to catch chlamydia. He speaks in pretty general terms and my guess is he’s just letting us know that The Powers in the Spirit World can fuck with us any time they damn well please. Take my word – this is a warning shot.
Frederick Douglass– A former slave turned leader of the abolitionist movement, Susan says Fred is hella chill. When reading her description of him, one of my notes says, “So he’s Morgan Freeman. Or is Morgan Freeman him?!?” Imma just leave you with that thought.
Betsy Ross – OMFG GUYS. B. Ross is GAAAAAY! And she was totes part of the underground gay community back in the day. In fact, I’m gonna go ahead and say she was the closeted Rachel Maddow of her times. DEAL WITH IT.
Charlemagne – As history remembers him, Charley was a military leader who conquered a shit ton of the world and forcibly converted his conquered subjects to Christianity. Sounds like a baller, no? Well, apparently he’s a huge fucking wimp. If Charlemagne was alive today (and animated), he’d definitely be Milhouse Van Houten (and if you don’t know that Milhouse is a character from The Simpsons we probably won’t ever be friends). Oh, you don’t believe me? You don’t think I’m truly clairvoyant? HOW DARE YOU DOUBT ME MINIONS! Blah, alright, here’s some evidence:
“As long as I functioned within the rules, I was protected…”
Protected from whom, Charley? From Nelson perhaps?! Your Charle-mother-fucking-magne. Get your confidence on son!
“I believe in repairing conflicts through diplomacy.”
C’mon. Really? I call shenanigans. SAY THAT TO MY FACE CHARLEY.
Gandhi – More like Yodhi, amirite?! Oh wait, you haven’t read this book. Let me explain. It’s a reference to Yoda and Star Wars. I’m gonna be honest, this parallel is shaky at best. It’s litereally built off of one line. I read it, felt it, and couldn’t look back. Here it is:
“To me, all that matters is that I tried.”
I read that and thought, “Do, or do not. There is no try.” Maybe this is a testament to my father and him introducing Star Wars to me at a young age. Maybe it reflects my specific level of geek. Either way, I’m fine with it. The point is, I read this line and immediately thought, “He’s like Yoda, except he’s cool with you just trying.” Which I feel like is totes Gandhi.
As a bonus, there’s also this:
God is the life force. You can’t see him but you can feel him. On one level God includes our connection to others. But to me he feels huge, and his energy and life force permeate everything.
Sure, this is more of an Obi Wan quote (“Well, the Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.”), but the theme remains the same.
In short, spot on Susan. Spot. On.
Albert Einstein – Self identified as Neo from The Matrix. I cannot improve upon that.
Henry Ford – Okay, so Henry has a hard-on for Steve Jobs. Totes would have a three way with him and another player, TBD. The short list includes President Obama (but not until that one day when he crosses to the Other Side of course). And I quote:
Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden. Original sin? I don’t think so. Original beauty. The Apple logo was so inspired.
…while you’re listening, please do not be hardheaded or stubborn in your beliefs. It’s important for your growth. I wish I had been a little more open-minded. You can never be open-minded enough.
You may love it! Allow yourself to be surprised.
OPEN-MINDED. KNOW WHAT I’M SAYIN?! SURPRISED, RIIIIIIIGHT? Also, a little later:
Say what you mean, mean what you say, and then stand up for that. Put some backbone behind it.
I take this to mean that he is a top.
Time to Move into the Light
I have some more thoughts on the additional celebrities including a Rocky reference (please review my Twitter history to understand my true feelings on the Rocky movies) and a wannabe Cher, but, unlike our featured author, I will not drone on.
I give Conversations with History 3 ½ Overpriced Tarot Card Readings out of 5.
It’s a fun idea with a positive message that I support. The medium used (get it?!) to convey the message is a new one on me. For the record, that’s where the ½ of the 3 ½ comes from. Anyway, there’s hopefully a sequel, so someone pick it up and let me know what Jesus thinks about Tumblr!
So, Readers. Another fine review by our official psychic-medium interviews with dead guys correspondent. Whatcha thinking? Who’s going to pick up part two? Have you ever communed with the spirits? What’s the craziest book billed as non-fiction that you’ve ever read?
AnnaSaurus Rex is no stranger to the book world. She’s the brave soul who reads the books that none of us dare to but wish we could. Hello dinosaur erotica and Christian mystery novellas! Go ahead and add psychics interviewing dead guys to the list. AnnaSaurus brings a sense of humor to all she does. You can follow her on Twitter @anna_saurus_rex where she live tweets from hospital waiting rooms, random music festivals, and during loads of bad nineties television.