In his new book, “The Unidentified,” Colin Dickey writes about Bigfoot, alien visitations and other phenomena that science seems unable to explain — and looks at the cults that have developed around them.
“I wanted to dig a little deeper into the genealogy of where some of these beliefs come from,” Dickey says. “I really wanted to understand how we became a culture that is yearning for the unbelievable, that is yearning for something that is beyond the reach of science and religion.”
Miles Harvey visits the podcast to talk about his new book, “The King of Confidence,” his fascinating history of James Jesse Strang, a 19th-century grifter who ruled over a breakaway religious colony.
“From an early age, he dreamt of being a lawyer, a politician, a statesman,” Harvey says. “At one point in these journals, he talks about how he wants to marry Britain’s Princess Victoria, who was then not Queen Victoria, and he says: ‘If only I had a chance to do this, I could pull it off.’ So, he was an amazing self-actualizer in a time where self-reinvention was just rampant. This was the great age of the self-made man. And I always think how similar Strang’s career was to Abraham Lincoln’s: both these country lawyers, both state reps, postmasters. And for a long time, Strang was more famous than Lincoln.”
Also on this week’s episode, Alexandra Alter has news from the publishing world; and Dwight Garner and Parul Sehgal talk about what people are reading. Pamela Paul is the host.
Here are the books discussed in this week’s “What We’re Reading”:
We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to email@example.com.