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Book Review

Book Review: by Lang Reid

Seeing is Believing

The Ripley’s people have a new book just out called “Seeing is Believing” (ISBN 978-1-893951-45-7, Ripley’s Entertainment, 2009).
In true Ripley’s fashion, the contents are a collage of headings called “What’s going on inside this incredible crazy book” and there are certainly some crazy goings-on. For starters, under Strange but True, there are skydiving scrabble players. If that’s not enough, in the Incredible Feats section you can have someone who eats cockroaches (real ones, not the water beetles beloved by Isaan ladies), but it turns out he only kept them in his mouth. Cheating!
The introduction gives a brief history of Robert Ripley, who was working as a cartoonist for the New York Globe in 1918 and began illustrating achievements in athletics, but then expanded from there. He personally traveled the world (201 countries by 1940) and was an avid collector of the strange but true items, which he housed in his island estate in New York. He died in 1949, but the concept has proved so popular the research staff continue to unearth oddities. In fact, if you have some strange fact, the Ripley’s people invite the reader to contact them.
As well as strange objects and odd facts, there is one section with some very strange people, including actress Sarah Berhardt who slept in a pink satin lined coffin and Prussian Field Marshall Prince Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher (1742-1819) who was convinced he was pregnant with an elephant fathered by a French soldier. Must have been a big soldier he had been cavorting with!
It certainly is amazing just what can happen today in auctions, with collectors with more money than sense bidding and winning objects such as Madonna’s Jean Paul Gaultier bra which fetched $8,200 in 1997, or an empty prescription bottle prescribed for Elvis Presley which was sold for $2,640 in 2007.
If you are about to fly via Nepal Airlines be aware that two years ago they sacrificed two goats in front of the plane at Kathmandu airport after the plane developed technical problems. Apparently the fault was cured. The goats were not.
While still on transportation, in 1982 a woman boarded the wrong bus in Malaysia and ended up in Northern Thailand. It reputedly took 25 years for her to be united with her family. I wonder if she had to pay overstays to the Immigration Department?
If this makes you hungry, in the UK you can buy a $185 hamburger from Burger King!
At B. 950 (hard cover) is not expensive for a publication with just so much detail between the covers; however, despite the “What’s going on inside this incredible crazy book” indicating page numbers, I was unable to find any numbers for the first 10 minutes, but eventually found them along the left margin. Probably making me do incredible visual feats. There is also an index at the back of the book, if you can’t find the page numbers either!
This book will keep teenagers occupied for many hours, so for that reason alone it’s probably worth the money! A great Xmas present, but too heavy to post overseas.