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Miracle Detective

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  178 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
In a tiny, dilapidated trailer in northeastern Oregon, a young Mexican woman saw a vision of the Virgin Mary in an ordinary landscape painting hanging on her bedroom wall. After being met with skepticism from the local parish, the Catholic diocese officially placed the matter "under investigation." Investigative journalist Randall Sullivan wanted to know how exactly one mi
Published (first published 2004)
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Dec 10, 2013 Ethan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For a while this book was freaking me out. The author begins as a non-believing editor for Rolling Stone who takes an assignment to investigate supposed miracles around the world. What follows is a gripping narrative, many bite-sized history lessons about the most violent war-town areas in the world, and honest interviews with all the principal players in the biggest mysteries in modern history. This is non-fiction, but like "The Rite" (by Matt Baglio) stranger truths are reported than any ficti ...more
Jun 01, 2010 Patrick rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
What most impressed me about this book was its unflinching honesty. This could not have been easy to write, but Sullivan's integrity makes it worth reading, whether you think the Virgin Mary appeared to modern Slavic children or not. It's not "lectio divina" (as we old-school Catholics call purposefully spiritual reading), but it IS the kind of thing that Flannery O'Connor and Graham Greene would have been proud to write, had they thought of it.
Harvey Smith
Feb 19, 2017 Harvey Smith rated it it was ok
I was really hoping to enjoy this book, and a look at Church miracles, but, alas I didn't all that much.
The author starts off by saying he's going to look into miracles and try to see if they are real.

He then goes off telling about "miracles" that happened in Northeastern Oregon, Croatia, Bosnia (Serbs), Scottsdale AZ, Yugoslavia...........what seemed to lots of obscure places and cultures. It got really bogged down in minute details.

Finally, ab out 2/3 of the way through the book, the author i
Chris Bushman
Apr 04, 2013 Chris Bushman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I actually published a slightly edited version of the following review in the Catholic Sentinel- my claim to fame!


Reported apparitions of the Virgin Mary run from the sublime (At Fatima to three Portuguese children in a pasture) to the silly (In Florida to a jewelry designer on a grilled cheese sandwich). It was news reports of a Boardman, OR Marian apparition in the winter of 1994 skewing toward the silly which first piqued Portland author Randall Sullivan's interes
Aug 05, 2011 Randy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Author Randall Sullivan investigates modern day Marian apparitions in this long but surprisingly gripping book. The word "apparitions" had, for me,a pejorative feel to it prior to reading "The Miracle Detective" but I don't mean it that way. I just mean appearances that may or may not be objective, that at the very least have a mystical element to them.

He starts, of all places, in Boardman, Oregon where in 1994 it was reported that the Virgin Mary was appearing in a gaudy painting hanging in a
Feb 15, 2016 Jim rated it really liked it
This is an excellent introduction into the process and politics of how the Catholic Church declares something "miraculous" and finds certain people to be "saints". It also delves into the whole field of alleged apparitions. The book started with a Mexican farm worker in a broken-down trailer in Oregon, who suddenly sees the figure of the Blessed Virgin Mary in a cheap landscape painting decorating her bedroom. Sullivan read a newspaper article about the incident, and from that, spun the book ide ...more
Lee Harmon
Jan 19, 2011 Lee Harmon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the war-torn country of Yugoslavia, late 1980's, a cluster of children (ages up through 16) began seeing the Virgin Mary and reporting her words. Medjugorje, if you've ever heard of the place, appeared protected from the war by the madonna.

The Miracle Detective describes Sullivan's trip into the world of miracles and the investigation of these miracles by the Catholic church. By the end of the book, even Sullivan has been deeply affected by his brush with the supernatural, and it is this pers
Jan 27, 2016 Martha rated it it was ok
The Miracle Detective purports to be “an investigation of holy visions.” Although the book contains some information on Lourdes, Fatima, and other past miraculous claims, the bulk of the text is devoted to Medjugorje, the town in Bosnia-Herzegovina where six young people, ages 10-16, began seeing daily apparitions of the Virgin Mary in 1981. Author Randall Sullivan, a contributing editor for Rolling Stone, begins the book in a brisk reportorial style reminiscent of Jonathan Krakauer’s Into Thin ...more
Hmm, this is a tough one. It begins as exactly what it says it is, an investigation. Sullivan interviews the people involved, gives a survey of different opinions and studies created and conducted around it, the mythology and facts of Medjugorje etc. It should also be said from the get-go that Medjugorje is RIVETING, believer or not, the story is unbelievable and Sullivan paints the picture remarkably well. There are two major downfalls though. The first is that the second half of the book devol ...more
Dec 11, 2013 Nadya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are times where Sullivan seems to veer rather off track...on the other hand, much can be considered on topic when discussing miracles. Apart from facilitating my first introduction to the apparition site of Medjugorje,what I appreciated most about this book was Sullivan's honesty and vulnerability with his own investigation of miracles and the divine. It was refreshing to read a piece where the author shares his own doubts, convictions, and bewilderment.
I would have appreciated more refer
Mar 27, 2011 Gwen rated it liked it
This story was really interesting. The first part was a quick read, and the beginning of the author's conversion was compelling. The last 2/3 of this book became incredibly bogged down in what could have been more generously edited. It was not crucial that he add every little bit of conversation and gossip he could remember from his stay in Medgegorje (sp??). And yet another non-fiction book loses a star because of no maps or photos. C'MON!! An entire chapter delves into the complex geo-politica ...more
Wayland Smith
Odd book. I had thought at first it was going to be about how a miracle is investigated in the modern age. It's a bit about that, but also about how it effects people's lives, and how the author went through his own spiritual journey while researching the book.

It had it's interesting moments, but veered less from fact and more into spiritual than I was anticipating. Worth the read, but not quite what I had thought from the review I read that got me interested.
Feb 20, 2008 Rodney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An extraordinary book, in which a very bright journalist sets out to investigate Marian apparitions in Oregon and centrally in Medjugorge. Fascinatingly informative on how extensively the Roman Catholic Church investigates possible miracles and theophanies. Drags a bit toward the end as Sullivan teases out his own conversion story. But overall an excellent piece of work and an altogether entertaining and painless way to learn a lot about the close study of mystical experience.
Aug 01, 2009 Myersorchard rated it liked it
this was a fairly large book and it took me a while to get through it. the book was suppose to be about marian visions and apparitions, but turned out to be a wonderful journey with the author from questioning agnostic to an almost catholic believer. he offered some very interesting insight into how the vatican handles these things
Mar 28, 2010 Leigh rated it liked it
The strengths of this book are the depth of research done by Sullivan and the writing style, which is engaging. The weaknesses are that it needs some heavy editing. The parts about the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina droned on and on, and I forgot that this was about a spiritual journey and not a war narrative.
Feb 01, 2008 Atchisson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really fascinating story of a Rolling Stone reporter who heads to Medjugorie to investigate the case of seven children who claim to have spoken to the Virgin Mary. You may or may not believe, but his tale is pretty interesting none the less. Creepy scene in a small Italian plaze does as good a job as anything of reminding us that evile truly exists.
Jan 19, 2016 Stacy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The writing feels very scattered and there is much too much detail, so that it gets hard to focus because of all the minutia. I did read halfway through and decided to put it down - life is too short for a book this ridiculously long.
Nov 13, 2010 Jeannine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction

This book encompasses: history, science, medicine, parapsychology, Catholicism, Marian visions/sightings, an extensive examination of the Balkan wars, faith, doubt, and ultimately - mystery.

It's an intense and very detailed read, one that has a permanent place on my bookshelf.
Chris Fernandez
Dec 13, 2011 Chris Fernandez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book for the subject matter; covers some good historical context for the area and similar examples of Marian apparitions. Certainly a good jump off point for those interested in this fascinating social phenomena.
I don't know what to base my rating for this book on, so I'm not going to give it one.
I didn't LIKE it per se, but that's because my religious views differ.
But, I did like the journey of the author itself and I found it really interesting (not to mention batshit scary and freaky at times).
Oct 18, 2009 DJ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading, My Cousin, the Saint' I was curious about the people who have the role of investigating miracles. This book really delves into what a difficult task it is to separate an event or occurence that is supernaturally peculiar from what people want to believe.
Aug 08, 2007 Sandra marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Heard this author interviewed recently and he piqued my curiosity.
This is actually a rather disturbing book in many ways but it is also one of the most compelling books I have read.
William Peirson
Mar 12, 2007 William Peirson rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People interested in Miracles
Really great book, except the Author seems to think I'm more interested in him than the people he interviews.
Mar 02, 2013 Tracey rated it it was ok
This book read like a text book for me but as hard as it was to get through I have to say it was somewhat interesting.
Mar 04, 2013 Rosemary rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Really great writing to tell a cohesive narrative primarily about the visitations in Medjugorje and Scottsdale, AZ.
Regan rated it it was amazing
Jul 27, 2015
Karen rated it it was amazing
Jun 09, 2016
Steve Cauffman
Steve Cauffman rated it really liked it
Feb 03, 2015
Amy rated it liked it
Nov 30, 2016
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