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Publisher's Summary

"Absolutely perfect for the current moment." (BuzzFeed)

America's favorite cultural historian and author of Ghostland takes a tour of the country's most persistent "unexplained" phenomena.

In a world where rational, scientific explanations are more available than ever, belief in the unprovable and irrational - in fringe - is on the rise: from Atlantis to aliens, from Flat Earth to the Loch Ness monster, the list goes on. It seems the more our maps of the known world get filled in, the more we crave mysterious locations full of strange creatures.

Enter Colin Dickey, cultural historian and tour guide of the weird. With the same curiosity and insight that made Ghostland a hit with readers and critics, Colin looks at what all fringe beliefs have in common, explaining that today's Illuminati is yesterday's Flat Earth: the attempt to find meaning in a world stripped of wonder. Dickey visits the wacky sites of America's wildest fringe beliefs - from the famed Mount Shasta where the ancient race (or extraterrestrials, or possibly both, depending on who you ask) called Lemurians are said to roam, to the museum containing the last remaining "evidence" of the great Kentucky meat shower - investigating how these theories come about, why they take hold, and why as Americans we keep inventing and reinventing them decade after decade. The Unidentified is Colin Dickey at his best: curious, wry, brilliant in his analysis, yet eminently engaging.

©2020 Colin Dickey (P)2020 Penguin Audio

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What listeners say about The Unidentified

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  • Overall
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good catalogue of interesting stories... with a good deal of preachy liberal monologues in the middle

The stories and interviews are interesting, but the author would often ramble off into far flung semi-poetic monologues about politically charged topics like global warming or how rich white climbers were polluting Mount Everest. Weird flex, but if you can look past the liberal bias, still a decent listen. Felt a little like he was trying to make a word count. Could have cut about 1/3 of the book and it would have been much more enjoyable.

3 people found this helpful

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Narrows the world ever so slightly

This book is fine. The reading of it is fine. Together making for a .. sorta fine experience. The voice actor is good, but for this setting of “amazing, strange stories .. proceeded by skeptical tutting” it’s too neutral. Too stable & strict. I don’t remember a single performative or charming read of a line, nor hardly any emotion, really. That mixes with the content of this book to absolutely do what it’s final moments remind us never to do, “never make the world smaller, only bigger.” It’s sad that the “few genuinely lingering mysteries — the wheat among the countless chaff of nonsense encounters” according to the author are only discussed for the last 1% of the book. The other 99% is “describe, pique interest, reduce down to metaphor or psychological drive, etc.” Bummer.

1 person found this helpful

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More serious than I expected, yet very welcome

Truly glad I got this. Will look for a hard copy to save and share

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Not expected.

I guess I was expected more stories and actual moment by moment events and some science to back up claims and theories. This was 90% science and backstories that seemed to be way to deep for what I expected. I learned things, but won’t deny moments where I was completely bored out of my mind.

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not as advertised

disjointed selection of weird and unexplained stories. this books does not offer any new or fresh thoughts or conclusions. really not worth the time to listen to or read it.

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Skeptic's Analysis of Weird America

First off- I loved this audiobook. This book is perfect for the skeptical/scientifically-minded person that also enjoys tales of the Weird. The book is packed with anecdotes about alien encounters and cryptids, but it's ultimately an analysis of what these stories tell us about American culture. The book hops between recorded encounters of the Weird, history, personal observations, and a travel diary (the author visits places that are significant to the chapter). Fair warning: the political perspective of this book leans Left, or at least Left-Center (which wasn't a problem for me). I think the connection to politics and conspiracy are not only timely, but are seamlessly woven into the overall thesis of the book. The tone is academic, but still approachable.

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Dickey nails it.. yet again.

Another idea feast. Dickey does deep research into a set of topics and delivers it in easy, conversational prose. Essential reading for every devotee of our much needed skeptic movement.

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Fascinating!!

Like Ghostland, I enjoy how Dickey informs the reader about unusual events but he never tries to persuade the reader to believe or not believe.