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The Book of the Damned

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  652 ratings  ·  68 reviews
The Book of the Damned has inspired scientists, science fiction writers, moviemakers, and devotees for almost a hundred years. The damned data Charles Fort gathered covered so many marvels, mysteries, and monsters--including unidentified aerial objects, frog falls, ship disappearances, red rains, earthquake lights, lake monsters, animal mutilations, psychic explosions, and ...more
Hardcover, 344 pages
Published November 1st 2006 by Cosimo Classics (first published 1919)
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Dec 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
Some people dismiss Fort as an unscientific crank, some people embrace him whole-heartedly as a reporter of the paranormal, others just love him as a champion of the ABnormal. I like his language - wch may generally go undercommented on as people pay more attn to the more spectacular "Fortean" phenomena described. I find Fort's language to be EXTREMELY CAREFUL in its attempt to NOT BE DEFINITIVE & it's in this that, for me, therein lies Fort's extreme importance. It's not just that he stresses t ...more
Aug 07, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm actually surprised I managed to finish this book. It had a lot of potential, I thought - supposedly Fort's ideas inspired a great many writers whose work I enjoy, including H.P. Lovecraft, Robert Heinlein, and Stephen King. As soon as I started reading, though, I could tell it would be a slog to get through; the writing is dense and unorganized and frankly most of it is crazy. But some of the basic premises are thought-provoking: for instance, excessive trust in current scientific understand ...more
Jul 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is four books: Lo! Wild Talents, the Book of the Damned and New Lands.

Lo!: List of strange phenomenon with possible explanations. Postulates teleportation as a means to fill a void in a niche. Example: instects to where there are few or none, water to drought regions--in a response to prayer? Also postulates earthquakes and volcanos related to the appearances of new stars due to a stationary earth (?). Dislikes professional astronomers.

Wild Talents: Strange fires that only burn beds and no
Here is my opinion of this book and Charles Fort in general :

I think the fact that everything written in here is true, recorded history is fascinating and frightening. His critiques of science and the modern scientific method are really very interesting and enlightening.

Our world is not as orderly and logical as we like to pretend it is - and Fort has the proof. And I do love that concept.

However, the fact is I hate him. It's all the same thing, and the mass of information is overwhelming. He
Francis O'Neill
May 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We are still in Fortean Times

The Book of the Damned (first published in 1919) covers records and reports of odd and freak occurrences from around the world that were at the time, and mostly still are, unexplained.

UFOs and all

We are talking freak weather - rains that dumped small animals and inanimate objects like blocks of ice, pebbles; also black rain, triangular clouds and artefacts like axeheads falling from the sky. It also records some poltergeist activity, dirigibles (UFOs to us), and man
I can't deny Fort's importance as a pioneer in the study of weird and inexplicable phenomena, but surely he was one of the worst prose stylists of his generation. His love for incomplete sentences is maddening, and when he does write a complete one, it is usually awkwardly constructed and poorly phrased. As for his philosophy of "Intermediateness" (or whatever it should be called), one can scarcely weigh its merits when it is set forth so murkily. Adding to the confusion, Tiffany Thayer (the fou ...more
Tom Stevens
Dec 03, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: myterious
"Bizarre" and "disturbing".

It is a shame that this book wasn't written by someone with a better writing style, as it was difficult to follow his train of thought. I have read few books that start so many paragraphs with the word "That".

And yet the citations of mysterious sky droppings certainly leave you scratching your head in wonder. Either the world is filled with cranks and pranksters, or what we think of reality is in need of readjustment. Charles Fort has his own suggestions, which will r
Harry Allard
I started this book thinking Fort was some kind of proto-Alex Jones, 20th century conspiracy theorist, but I was missing the point. Fort doesn't actually believe the theories he puts forwards, he doesn't believe in a Super-Sargasso Sea, he doesn't believe in an extinct race of diminunitive fairies, it's all a thought experiment. He gathers anomalous data from the most reputable sources of the 20th and 19th centuries, and puts forth absurd theories that account for ALL the data. It's a mockery of ...more
Dimitris Hall

Below you will find an assortment of highlights from The Book of the Damned pulled from the clipping file of my Kindle. Convenient, that. You can find the same super-version of the book as the one I read for free on Amazon. I'm still not sure if it's a best-of, Charles Fort's collected works, or what... There seems to be at least some content which doesn't match up with the text found on his four books as found separately.

Anyway, back to the quotes:
The data of the damned. I have gone into th
Jul 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At times as jumbled as the Sargasso Sea, but overall a pleasure to read.
Rene Bard
In the fictional world of the TV show The X-Files, I can imagine this book being in Fox Mulder's library. It purports to be is a list of occurrences and UFO sightings that have been damned - that is, excluded from history - because there are no satisfactory scientific explanations for these incidents. Published in 1919, long before the Age of Space Travel, Charles Fort's major premise was that other worlds or entities, undetected by humanity, lurked nearby in the heavens, even closer than the Mo ...more
Jul 12, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Charles Fort is a terrible writer. Simply terrible. I can just imagine friends and acquaintances diving into back alleys any time they spotted Ol' Charlie coming down the street. He is not a man I would want to have a conversation with.

As to the book, the bulk of it is mostly hearsay of mysterious and unusual things falling from the sky. Red rain, fish, white fibers, pebbles, etc. After poo-pooing all the scientific explanations of these phenomenons, Fort gives his own conclusion, which is...

Timothy Boyd
I was hoping for alot more from this book. Seems to me it's just the ramblings of one man opinion without any proofs or really any conclusions. Lots of facts stated but nothing drawn from them. Not recommended ...more
Peenworm Grubologist
We're all bugs and mice, and merely different expressions of an all-inclusive cheese. ...more
Nov 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I feel like I know nothing after reading this.
This cult book is often described as pseudoscientific amusement, a collection of weird facts, but it's much more than that: its core is deeply philosophical and deals with epistemology: the philosophy of knowledge (and, therefore science). In short, the author has collected over decades all published science that didn't fit in with scientific paradigm.

The first chapter of this book is genius. It contains a blistering epistemological analysis of what knowledge is, and makes the philosophical poin
Arthur Cravan
This book surprised me. The first chapter/intro part excited me - the guy seemed to be on some shit that could go anywhere. Within the first few pages of the second chapter, it became clear to me I'd made some kind of mistake. A few more chapters in, & I was ready to put the book down - very rare for me. It seemed like an annoyingly smug breed of stupidity, an endless collection of dates & locations that there were strange rains or or unexplainable rocks. Though we should know damn well better n ...more
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Joel  Werley
Jan 09, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charles Fort's 1919 exploration of the paranormal and unexplained natural phenomena (incredible amounts of strange substances falling from the sky!) is one of the strangest, most ludicrous, yet amazing things I have read. The Fortean put-downs of certain types of scientific thinking (especially astronomy!) are unparalleled.


1. The fittest survive. What is meant by the fittest? Not the strongest; not the cleverest— Weakness and stupidity everywhere survive. There is no way of determinin
Feb 11, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, classics
I had heard about Fort and Forteana for years, so I definitely had expectations going into reading this. I expected a catalog of strange and unconnected phenomena, with no connecting links. I was slightly disappointed to find that there was a poorly thought out model which he kept coming back to. (Evidently his later books have dropped it). The idea of coal driven spaceships was pretty laughable at the time when he wrote the book, for example. The majority of things which he lists as having fall ...more
Fraser Sherman
Dec 15, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
My first encounter with this writer on the paranormal. He picked the title for this 1919 book to indicate his theories are "damned," in that they're cast out from the heaven of accepted scientific thought.
The best part is the sheer mass of examples. Multiple stories of fish, frogs, carved stones, cannonballs apparently falling from the sky. Blood from the sky. A rain of flesh. A cursory check elsewhere indicates some of them are indeed baffling or have unconvincing "rational" explanations. It's
Nov 25, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I first heard of Charles Fort when I read Stephen King's DANSE MACABRE in my teens. I'd never read any of Fort's writing but understood he is recognized as one of the pioneers in collecting odd facts and reporting on incidents of, for example, rains of frogs on towns.
And, in essence, that's exactly what THE BOOK OF THE DAMNED is. It's a collection of odd facts and occurences from across the globe. It's important to note the book was written in 1919 and it shows. This was before many great scient
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I pretty much forced myself to finish this book. It took me a long time. I was interested in the book because I knew it was influential to HP Lovecraft who I do enjoy reading. HP Lovecraft even mentions Fort in a couple of his stories. The writing in The Book of the Damned is horrible though. Lots of incomplete thoughts, rambling, clauses and phrases parading as sentences. Fort writes in a voice contemptuous of science which at times reminded me of our current society. Just look to our president ...more
Kate Lowe
I bought this book as I have been reading the Fortean Times for over a year and thought I should know more about the man behind the title and the phenomena reported therein.
This book is a slog. It's a work of it's time and is wordy to the point of becoming nonsensical. Fort tends to ramble on and on, finding different ways to express one point, which can take a whole page, and then all of a sudden we start getting lists of phenomena. I found this book equally frustrating and fascinating, bu
Trinity Ota
One cannot deny the flare in Fort's writing style, which is unique and refreshing to read. However, the content has not aged well; rising secularism and scientific advancements almost guarantee most readers will rationalise his 'mysterious' and 'inexplicable' accounts into nothing more than 19th century intrigue. Despite this, the novel picks up towards the end and if anything, Fort's beliefs on "Negative Positivism" and "psycho-tropisms" are worth reading, and summarise how he "see[s] what [he] ...more
Briar Page

This collection of anecdotes and (ostensible) data related to bizarre phenomena is valuable as a resource for those of us who are interested in the mysterious, unexplained, and generally spooky.

It was, however, a mistake for me to try and read it straight through as one would a typical book. I think that, after reading the introductory passages, it is MUCH better experienced in occasional bite-sized, non-linear chunks.
Michael Brown
Years ago went thru his books. Like Ripley's Believe It or Not, Fort presented the strange and the ( for then ) unexplainable. Much has since been shown to be true with the how and why detailed. Some shown to be faked but credible as filler to sell papers or get some personal recognition in an otherwise boring life. ...more
Simão Cortês
Very interesting book in general. Great first approach to aerial phenomena. Great sense of humor. Raises good questions relating to a methodology of the paranormal. Much more boring than I thought it would be though.
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not recommended. Just a listing of everything weird that has happened on the earth. Most of this is stuff that fell from the sky. Very archaic writing and difficult reading since it is mostly in list form with references.
Bryan Stevens
Oct 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A must read for those interested in the unexplained. His writing style makes some parts a little tough to push through but will inspire you with his level of thinking outside the confines that hold most of us back.
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Charles Hoy Fort was a Dutch-American writer and researcher into anomalous phenomena.

Jerome Clark writes that Fort was "essentially a satirist hugely skeptical of human beings' – especially scientists' – claims to ultimate knowledge". Clark describes Fort's writing style as a "distinctive blend of mocking humor, penetrating insight, and calculated outrageousness".

Writer Colin Wilson describes Fort

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“It is our expression that the flux between that which isn't and that which won't be, or the state that is commonly and absurdly called "existence," is a rhythm of heavens and hells: that the damned won't stay damned; that salvation only precedes perdition. The inference is that some day our accursed tatterdemalions will be sleek angels. Then the sub-inference is that some later day, back they'll go whence they came.” 9 likes
“A procession of the damned: By the damned I mean the excluded. We shall have a procession of data that science has excluded. Battalions of the accursed, captained by pallid data that I have exhumed will march. You'll read them, or they'll march. Some of them livid and some of them fiery and some of them rotten. Some of them are corpses, skeletons, mummies, twitching, tottering, animated by companions that have been damned alive. There are giants that will walk by, though sound asleep. There are things that are theorems and things that are rags. They'll go by, like you could, arm-in-arm with the spirit of anarchy. Here and there will foot little harlots. Many are clowns, but many are of the highest respectability. Some are assassins. There are pale stenches and gaunt superstitions and mere shadows and lively malices, whims and amiabilities, the naive and the pedantic and the bizarre and the grotesque and the sincere and the insincere, the profound, and the puerile. A stab and a laugh and the patiently folded hands of hopeless propriety. The ultra-respectable! But the condemned, anyway.” 0 likes
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