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Communion #1

Communion: A True Story

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On December 26, 1985, at a secluded cabin in upstate New York, Whitley Strieber went skiing with his wife and son, ate Christmas dinner leftovers, and went to bed early.

Six hours later, he found himself suddenly awake... and forever changed.

Thus begins the most astonishing true-life odyssey ever recorded—one man's riveting account of his extraordinary experiences with visitors from "elsewhere"... how they found him, where they took him, what they did to him and why...

Believe it. Or don't believe it. But read it—for this gripping story will move you like no other... will fascinate you, terrify you, and alter the way you experience your world.

320 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 1987

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About the author

Whitley Strieber

147 books1,056 followers
American writer best known for his novels The Wolfen,The Hunger and Warday and for Communion, a non-fiction description of his experiences with apparent alien contact. He has recently made significant advances in understanding this phenomenon, and has published his new discoveries in Solving the Communion Enigma.

Strieber also co-authored The Coming Global Superstorm with Art Bell, which inspired the blockbuster film about sudden climate change, The Day After Tomorrow.

His book The Afterlife Revolution written with his deceased wife Anne, is a record of what is considered to be one of the most powerful instances of afterlife communication ever recorded.

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5 stars
1,430 (21%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 672 reviews
Profile Image for William2.
758 reviews3,075 followers
August 16, 2018
On vacation in Martha's Vineyard, this book had me screaming in my sleep, nightly. My sleeping companion disliked being awoken in this manner in the dead of night. I had to stop reading it until the vacation was over. Shall we say it touched a nerve...
Profile Image for Ethan Miller.
76 reviews21 followers
November 28, 2008
I have never read an Abduction/ UFO study book before. I picked this book up at a record shop on tour on the east coast this year. It's been out for a long time and I remember what a splash it made upon its initial release. I also used to listen to Strieber's radio show in Santa Cruz on AM while delivering pizza's around town on Saturday nights. Communion was so much more than i expected. For one, Strieber is coming to this book as a writing talent so the book reads very eloquently, like that of a great fiction writer. The book is a page turner but more importantly his thinking, philosophizing and meditations on his experience take you beyond the sensational and controversial aspect of the subject matter into deeper meditations and thoughts about our psyches as individuals, as a race, as beings of history and the universe. Without giving a spoiler I will say that the most beautiful and thoughtful thing about this book and his reaction to his experiences is this: while most UFO/ abduction/ ET studies look to the skies and obsess over government cover-ups for discovery and understanding, Strieber looks more often to the uncharted hallways of the human soul. This book is at times frightening, haunting, mysterious, insightful but always deeply thoughtful and illuminated with a great sense of exploration led by his bold and creative mind. My own mind is still haunted and illuminated by many of the scenes and ideas in this book.
Profile Image for Zanna ❀.
44 reviews57 followers
March 18, 2022
I read this way-back-when, when it first came out. I loved it! It was scary and also fascinating. I'm still interested in the idea of alien contact, so sue me. I know it's fringe and there are many naysayers. But there is no shame in my game. "I'm not saying it was aliens... but it was aliens." 🤣👽
Profile Image for Angus McKeogh.
1,104 reviews56 followers
April 24, 2022
I read this book for two reasons. I believed I had previously read it as a teenager, and Texas Monthly published an article at some point stating that The Secret School is one of the ten best reads by a Texas author written in the last 100 years. Unfortunately The Secret School is book 4 or 5 in this series so I thought I'd read it from the start.

I quickly figured out I'd never have read this book as a teenager because it's monotonously boring. It's akin to reading the transcript of The Iran-Contra Affair or the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. A large portion of the book revolves around memories from a long time ago and the phrase, "I don't remember". The book is also subtitled "A True Story" which makes it immediately unrealistic and unbelievable when you delve into it.

The crux of the book revolves around retellings of vaguely remembered "occurrences" from years past or childhood. One "proof" comes in the form of hypnosis (completely disregarding scientific evidence which demonstrates that false "memories" are easily and routinely introduced into the minds of hypnotized subjects specifically from childhood). The author also ignores that in several of the hypnotized sessions a third person, Budd Hopkins, was allowed to sit in and question the subject. Uhhhhh...Hopkins is a painter by trade who became obsessed with UFOs and turned amateur hypnotist also writing a book about "missing time". And Hopkins goes on to ask the most leading questions. Way stupid.

Another offered "proof" is a chapter chronicling the minutes of a UFO abductees’ meeting. This again produces zero evidence and is filled with a plethora of "I don't remember's" and "I just felt that's" in reportage leaving me baffled as to how this backed the author's thesis. The discussion in the meeting ultimately revolves around the sad lives of a few isolated souls and a strange cross in "cold reading" devices such as when the question is put forth, "Why was there such a lack of personality in these visitors?" Answer: "Oh I definitely felt that. Such a lack of personality. But then again they were inundated with a kind of personality!" Uh...what? You can't have it both ways unless you're just appealing to both sides so as not to be wrong.

Even further "proof" is offered when Strieber's wife is hypnotized and basically proceeds to say she remembers very little to nothing about her husband's alleged events as well as stating she thinks he has a mental problem. I'm still not sure how this was promoted as proof. Furthermore the author finishes the book with a mind numbingly dull chapter about his belief in the special nature of "the triad". He talks about the triangle for dozens upon dozens of pages and goes into diatribes about how legitimate the tarot is and even makes some predictions (which oddly enough based on the date when the book was written have not come to pass).

All in all I'll suffice it to say I'll never read The Secret School because this book was so awful. It read vague. It read false. It tried to support the debunked and unsupportable. Frankly it just sucked.
Profile Image for Erik Graff.
5,030 reviews1,163 followers
August 26, 2012
Mike Miley told me of this book when it came out in 1987. I was suspicious, having known its author as the source of The Hunger and Wolfen, two decent horror movies based on novels by him. This skepticism was reinforced shortly thereafter by the reading of a review of the book by science fiction writer Samuel Delany in The Nation. Delany, at some length and with considerable heat, accused Strieber of fraud. In consequence, I began to look for and read Strieber's novels, planning to obtain Communion after getting a sense of the workings of his imagination.

Now, having read at least five of Streiber's science fiction and horror books, now, many years later, I have finally obtained a copy of Communion thanks to the generosity of my stepbrother's girlfriend.

It's better than the movie in which Streiber was played by Christopher Walken. It's broader than I expected, personal accounts being supplemented by some overview of the history of the UFO abduction phenomenon. It's less opinionated than I imagined. The author subscribes to no particular interpretation of what has been happening to him or of what has been behind it.

Is it factual? This I do not know. Streiber is a good enough fiction writer to fake it convincingly. On video and audio he comes across as sincere and in earnest. I am, further, prone to believe others.

All this notwithstanding, Communion well represents much of the so-called abduction phenomenon and I intend to proceed to the second volume of these memoirs, Transformation.

Profile Image for Mike.
15 reviews1 follower
January 22, 2009
I am almost tired of people reading this book expecting it to be 100% biographical in nature. Streiber himself has been clear that he is not totaly sure what it is really about. I always read it taking the visitors out of the equation and looking at Streibers subsequent examination of himself, and his life.

I also believe it is wrong for anyone to claim it to be total B.S., as we have to face the one fact; we can not prove it to be true or false. This is the underlining problem for the hardcore believers, as well as the hardcore skeptics. It is no more believable than the Bible. Either you believe or you don't.
Profile Image for John Read.
Author 12 books29 followers
January 26, 2012
When my nephew was about ten years old, he insists he was visited by aliens. He says he woke up in the middle of the night with a bright orb coming through his bedroom window. Then nothing. The next thing he remembers is being in his parents bedroom trying to wake them up to warn them - but nothing would wake them. Next morning, the foot of his bed and bedroom floor were drenched. His mother asked him for an explanation and he told her the events of the previous night. Naturally she didn't believe him and thought he'd been up to mischief. That evening, the local paper, had headlines of strange sightings and lights in the night sky. The location given, was directly over my nephew's neighborhood.
He still insists to this day, as a 40+ father of three children, that something odd happened that night.
So when I read Communion, I did so with an open mind and a small vested interest. I now have no doubts that we are not alone.
Whitley Streiber insists that everything in this book actually happened. Even the biggest doubting Thomas would be hard pushed to explain some of Streiber's experiences - without calling him an out & out liar.
Even for non-believers, if you simply treat this as a good read, it is an incredible, powerful and sometimes uncomfortable story.

"Communion is one man's gripping story of repeated contact with apparent aliens or visitors. Assuming that these events are factual - and I think they are - then we human beings must begin a re-evaluation of ourselves and our place in the universe." Dr M.Bruce Maccabee. US Navy research physicist.

"Communion raises more questions for science than a galaxy full of black holes. It is beautifully written and one hell of a good read: a moving and courageous book." Dr John Gliedman: Research psychologist.

"Communion is a brilliant compelling and provcative work." Dr David Webb. Chairman Of Space Studies: University Of Dakota.
Profile Image for Chad.
Author 85 books663 followers
May 19, 2021
Very few books scare me. This was one of them. I'm "agnostic" when it comes to believing in aliens, but I love entertaining the idea. This book had me questioning everything from childhood memories to a "sighting" I experienced when I was younger. I'm still on the fence, but as Mulder so passionately declared, "I want to believe."
Profile Image for Anthony.
Author 9 books25 followers
August 28, 2012
Did aliens abduct Whitley Streiber in 1984? Are the "visitors" as he calls them from another planet, another dimension, from somewhere deep in the human psyche? And why are they here? These are the questions Streiber raises in his book, probably the all-time definitive book about alien abduction. Interesting though the questions may be, unfortunately he doesn't provide many answers.

The questions you will be asking yourself while reading it are more along the lines of : Is this guy totally crazy or a gigantic liar? (It does seem a big coincidence that he happened to write horror novels before this book, one about werewolves, and one about vampires . . . then aliens, hmm.)

I really enjoyed the book at first. It starts off with Whitley's two abduction stories. These stories are really spooky, I read this part late at night and then didn't want to turn the lights off. One story involves vague memories of a night when a crystal fire hovers over his house. The other is a full on aliens abduct the author, take him to a ufo and he gets probed and the little grey men inject something up his nose etc. The dreamlike way it all unfolds makes the visitors much more nightmarish and believable than a more straight forward account would be.

At this point you start to ask: what exactly is going on here, lies or madness, something actually weird, or a mixture. it's the tension between these explanations that keeps you turning the pages. The final effect is a puzzle, it leaves you unable to decide what category to place the book in: fiction or an honest but misled attempt at fact? And yet this parallax is actually strong enough to suggest that something unusual is in fact at the root of his stories. (The effect is similar to reading the Teachings of Don Juan.)

However the book gets more and more unbelievable as it goes on however. As the book progresses the author goes under hypnosis to recover memories of his abduction and begins to remember more and more supposed encounters with the aliens, which get weirder and weirder. Pretty soon you can't even keep track of the dozens and dozens of supposed encounters. His chronology leaps all over the place, and sometimes he casually mentions incredible stories in a off-hand manner, as stuff that he suddenly recalls. His attempts at theory about what is in fact going on behind the scenes range from the very insightful and creative ( I especially liked the theory that UFOs are contacting humanity across all eras of time simultaneously, which explains why they can have been around for thousands of years and still be inquisitive about humanity) to an incredibly stupid and treacly epilogue where Whitley's attempts at poetic philosophizing are especially grating and facile.

Bottom line: if you're interested in this sort of stuff this is one of the all-time classics on the subject. Otherwise, I'd skip this one, It is a mixed bag
April 16, 2013
Having personally witnessed 3 UFO sightings from the mid 60's, to the last one in August of 1970, his story both reminds me (and frightens me) of how close I was to my 3rd UFO sighting!

Mom and I both saw the first 2 UFO's while dad was driving. I spotted them and then asked mom if she saw it too, and she did.(The first one was near the cliffs (actually hiding above them at times) outside of Warm Springs, Oregon on a clear blue sky day. It was silver and reflecting the sun. We could see it very clearly. The 2nd one was hovering quite low near the water next to Highway 30 between Linton and Portland, Oregon at night. The radio station announced he was getting quite a few calls reporting the same sighting we saw!)

The 3rd (and thankfully the last) UFO that I saw hovered above my head (slightly above the 40' oak tree that I was standing next too! Seconds before that I had been hiding behind the trunk from dad. My brother and I were playing hide-and-seek and dad was supposed to come out to find us...) I had nightmares about it for years... I don't think I ever played outside in the dark much after that!!

Then around 1990, I happened to work with a young girl who was actually living in the same house (104 May Ave.) that I did when I saw the 3rd UFO! One day I got the courage to tell her what I had seen when I lived there. I did not expect to hear the response she gave me! She simply said "So did I!" At first I didn't believe her, but she then explained that her dad saw it first while getting ready for work at 5am. He saw it through the kitchen window that faces the back yard and the old oak tree. He woke his wife and daughter and all 3 of them saw it, so in a way I finally had a witness. The oak tree is no longer there, and the property behind the house that used to be the baseball field for the old McBride School, is now home to storage units. The oak tree used to be at the back of the field.

I've always wondered why the UFO returned to the same spot, just like they did to this author! This book reminds me of feeling like "they" had been following me for some reason!! No wonder I had nightmares back then, but for some reason I am fascinated by the experiences of others.
Profile Image for Evan.
125 reviews36 followers
August 30, 2007
This book scared the pants off me when I was ten.
21 reviews18 followers
July 20, 2021
As a young teenager, I always remember this as the first book I ever managed to finish. For that alone it deserves 5 stars. A bold title nevertheless and I question how true is 'true'?
Profile Image for Jim Mcvean.
50 reviews12 followers
November 14, 2012
Sometimes you read a book that changes your life. Was it a change for the better or worse I almost hear you cry?
I don't know
I read this book many years ago at the tender age of 21. The thing that initially drew me to it was the cover art...the typical alien head...

I devour the book in a couple of days and during the read I got what can only be described as a Flashback
Suddenly I remembered being with a pal at age 11ish standing on an Orkney hilltop in the night watching huge glowing red orbs passing silently over the town below

This flipped me out

I became paranoid as more memories of other events filtered into my consciousness

I ended up reading every UFO book I could track down in an attempt to read up on any reports of glowing red balls

It took me ten years to sleep with the light out

Are there aliens? I don't know...is there a coverup/ a pattern of ridicule or denial - YES

I think you should read this book with a hefty pinch o salt and an equally open mind...maybe you will remember something too
Profile Image for George K..
2,433 reviews318 followers
April 6, 2016
Βαθμολογία: 7/10

Τρίτο βιβλίο του Γουίτλι Στρίμπερ που διαβάζω, μετά το καλογραμμένο και άκρως ενδιαφέρον "Οι λυκάνθρωποι" και το ψυχαγωγικό μεν αλλά προβληματικό "2012: Ο πόλεμος για τις ψυχές", τα οποία διάβασα το 2014. Τα δυο προηγούμενα βιβλία ήταν μυθιστορήματα, αυτό που μόλις τελείωσα υποτίθεται ότι είναι αληθινή ιστορία, με τον συγγραφέα να περιγράφει τις εμπειρίες του από τις επαφές του με άγνωστα και παράξενα όντα, εξωγήινης προέλευσης. Ο Στρίμπερ αναλύει όλες τις παράξενες συναντήσεις του με το Άγνωστο, με περίεργα πλάσματα αλλά και αντικείμενα, συνομιλεί με ειδικούς και ψυχιάτρους για το θέμα αυτό, μέσω ύπνωσης επιστρέφει στο παρελθόν και θυμάται γεγονότα, ενώ παράλληλα προσπαθεί να κατανοήσει τις επαφές του με τα άγνωστα όντα και τους λόγους για τους οποίους τον πλησίασαν.

Αμφιβάλλω πολύ αν όλα όσα περιγράφει ο Στρίμπερ είναι αληθινά, αν και προσωπικά είμαι αρκετά δεκτικός ως προς την ύπαρξη των εξωγήινων και την πιθανή επαφή τους με κάποιους ανθρώπους. Πάντως όσα περιγράφονται έχουν το ενδιαφέρον τους, είτε είναι πραγματικά είτε όχι, κάποιες περιγραφές των "εμπειριών" του συγγραφέα μου πρόσφεραν αρκετές ανατριχίλες. Όμως κουράστηκα λιγάκι από την μονοτονία της όλης ιστορίας, τα μπρος πίσω στον χρόνο και ορισμένες μπερδεμένες καταστάσεις. Και ειδικά προς το τέλος με την όλη "τριαδικότητα", τις διάφορες αναφορές και τις φιλοσοφικές του προσπάθειες, μ'έκανε να βαρεθώ σε μεγάλο βαθμό. Μάλιστα κάποιες σελίδες τις ξεπέταξα τσάκα τσάκα, διαβάζοντάς τες διαγωνίως. Η γραφή δεν ξεχωρίζει ιδιαίτερα, σίγουρα είναι ευκολοδιάβαστη, αλλά μου φάνηκε κάπως επίπεδη και με έλλειψη συναισθημάτων.

Σαν βιβλίο έχει το ενδιαφέρον του, αν δεν πιστεύετε ότι οι εμπειρίες που περιγράφει ο Στρίμπερ είναι αληθινές, μπορείτε κάλλιστα να το διαβάσετε σαν ένα μυθιστόρημα του Φανταστικού, με στοιχεία τρόμου και επιστημονικής φαντασίας. Να σας πω την αλήθεια, εγώ ως τέτοιο το διάβασα. Όσον αφορά τον συγγραφέα, έχει γράψει αρκετά ενδιαφέροντα μυθιστορήματα τρόμου και επιστημονικής φαντασίας (εκτός από αυτά που διάβασα, υπάρχουν και τα The Hunger, Warday, The Grays, Nature's End, Majestic και άλλα πολλά) και είναι κρίμα που κάποια από αυτά δεν έχουν μεταφραστεί στα ελληνικά.
Profile Image for J.B..
76 reviews9 followers
September 13, 2021
My cousin who is an oddity had this book at a family reunion about 7 years ago. Myself and my brothers asked him about it because we are avid readers and were interested. His copy was a hardcover and he had removed the dust jacket probably at the request of his mother so all we actually saw was a white book with the word "Communion" on the side. He looked us dead in the eyes individually and said "it's not the communion you're thinking" and walked away with his book to hide under a tree.

Well Mr. Antisocial we aren't Catholic so wasn't thinking of that communion anyway, give me your damn book....long story short after snatching the book from creepy pants and flipping through it I came to two conclusions:

1. My cousin is not only creepy and antisocial, hes also bat shit crazy

2. I must also be bat shit crazy because I immediately wanted to read this "secret" book that was shameful and would embarrass his mother if we knew he was reading it.

Two days later I had my paperback copy with big eyes on the front and jumped right in. "Whaaaa???" It took 3 days to finish which by my time clock is fabulously fast. Now either this guy is bat shit crazy and I am actually fucking normal (which is highly unlikely according to my therapist) or there are ALIENS flying around Earth taking people and doing some creepy stuff. I'm leaning more towards the latter. Either way if you read it as fantasy its creepy as hell, once you take into account the guy considers it a true story its then ruined. I dont regret the reading of the book, I regret the excitement I wasted thinking this was some great big secret conspiracy type shit and I WANTED IN. In conclusion it wasnt horrible and I think my creepy cousin thinks hes been abducted and butt violated by aliens 😞
Profile Image for Ubiquitousbastard.
801 reviews64 followers
December 24, 2013
Honestly, I don't do the whole aliens thing at all, but the cover of this book used to freak me out as a kid (and a bit residually as an adult) so I decided to see what was inside.

Alright, about fifty pages into this book I started to realize what direction this book was heading in. The author clearly believed that what he experienced was real and from there made a concerted effort to present facts and statements to support his belief rather than to draw objective conclusions, which is precisely what he accused skeptics of doing. He also offered several different possibilities for his experiences, but when it came down to it...

I liked reading this twenty-six years after it was published, because it makes things like the "visitors" trying to help mankind because of the ozone hole a little bit discredited. (No, it's not still growing, it's actually shrinking.) And everyone is so concerned that the near future will be catastrophic. Actually, that leads into my theory about why the visitors are characterized the way they are. The way that they have a "hive mind" and the similar jumpsuits, and even the asiatic looks of the visitors can all seem to be projected fears of communism during the Cold War. More telling is the fact that most sightings and experiences have occurred at the rise of communism. I can understand how certain sensitive people, through some set of circumstances, could possibly see visitors that are an actualized form of their anxieties and hopes. (Don't know how, but for some reason it makes a whole more sense than aliens.)
Profile Image for Steve Stred.
Author 71 books519 followers
March 29, 2021
I read this many years ago along with Fire in the Sky. I wanted to dive back in and see if it still held the same hold on me as it did all those years ago.

Tough one to rate as it seems to meander back and forth between a non-fiction account with heavy fictionalized sections.

Ultimately, I think this one will work for each reader differently based on their personal beliefs on if we're alone in the Universe or not.
Profile Image for Laura.
181 reviews17 followers
July 16, 2008
This book totally freaked me out, and I couldn't finish it. When I read it I was living in Austin which is where Whitley Streiber was living when he claims these events happened. I woke up in the middle of the night for weeks seeing aliens in my bedroom.
Profile Image for Simon.
367 reviews6 followers
March 30, 2022
Parts of this book are some of the most terrifying stuff I've ever read.
Parts of this book are some of the most boring stuff I've ever read.

The first 90 or so pages are so unsettling that when you get past that bit it feels a bit underwhelming and you have to wade through the next 100 pages before it gets really interesting again. That said, I believe and I do think that after you've finished this book, thinking about it is even more terrifying than reading it.
Profile Image for Peacegal.
10.2k reviews94 followers
October 18, 2010
Communion played a role in my life even before I read it. I have a vivid memory of a group of spandex-clad women gathered in my mother’s aerobics class, discussing Whitley Strieber’s supposed true story of alien abduction. One woman related some especially dreadful sequences in between sips from a Who Framed Roger Rabbit cup. After overhearing this, my seven-year-old brain seethed with nightmares for months afterward. Later on, I happened upon a paperback copy of the book among my dad’s collection. The alien on the cover was so frightening to me that I’d take occasional peeks at it just to give myself a chill.

With these vivid memories intact, I had high expectations for Communion. Instead, what I got was a muddle. While the subject matter is of course impossible to quantify, the book contains much material that is downright silly. Mr. Strieber’s repressed memories are drawn out with the help of hypnosis, and his sessions are transcribed throughout several chapters. Frankly, I’m skeptical about hypnosis, and when a book relies so heavily upon it, I feel a little cheated. Strieber also includes a very trying, extended hypnosis interview with his wife—whose experiences are mainly peripheral to the main story—and it is an absolute chore to read. Think page after page of a person contradicting herself, saying she can’t remember, and going off on unrelated tangents. And transcriptions of interviews with the author’s young son don’t really ring true; they do not seem to follow the way a child would normally talk.

The author’s writing style could be too self-referential, as he was constantly name-dropping the titles of other books he’s written and assuring readers of his sanity. Why? Why not present the story as he believes it to be, and let readers make up their own minds? Telling the reader over and over you’re not crazy and you’ve led a successful life is just distracting. Another confusing aspect of Communion is its apparent contradictions. In the beginning of the book the author seemed to act like his encounter with aliens was a new occurrence with no precedent, but later we learn he has had a string of extreme supernatural experiences throughout his life.

As I read this tale of a helpless, terrified being taken against his will from his home and studied by strange creatures whose motives are a mystery to him, I couldn’t help but think about the situation of nonhuman animals, especially those held in laboratories. Strieber, to his credit, also realized this parallel early on. To me, the alien sequences in the book could have just as easily been drawn from a laboratory primate’s experience as a haunted man’s.

On another note, the final chapter is one of the corniest, most starry-eyed assemblages of dreck I have ever read. It reminds me of a more literate version of something Sylvia Browne would write. The book would have been much better off had it simply omitted the ridiculous and pointless last chapter.

There are many fascinating books out there on the subject of the unknown. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of them.
Profile Image for Rachel Bea.
358 reviews115 followers
September 12, 2017
Overall I thought this was a compelling read. If you take what he writes to be true, then this is a pretty scary book. After reading his descriptions, hypnosis transcripts and polygraph results, I'm definitely convinced that something happened to him and his family.

Where the book lost me was in the odd discussions of ancient gods and reports of "visitors" throughout the ages, and some of the claims from the colloquy of abductees. I can pretty much believe that some people have been visited/abducted by alien beings (or those from another dimension). But some of these claims... No. It got kind of ridiculous at the end of this book. I did enjoy the Epilogue, though.
Profile Image for Jenni.
478 reviews14 followers
January 20, 2016
Regardless of your personal beliefs about aliens, this book is well written, well paced and quite riveting. Spooky.
Profile Image for Simon.
378 reviews78 followers
June 10, 2020
This book is difficult to rate because I am not sure how much Strieber is telling his initial "alien contact" experiences the way they happened to him, or how he has ended up remembering them after gaving gone into hypnotherapy and discussed the subject with other contactees. You can tell that the author is a skilled horror/suspense novelist, whom I already know from his unconventional werewolf novel "The Wolfen": "Communion" is structured more like a novel with a clear narrative, than like most nonfiction books about UFOs I've read. The result is more gripping and dare I say entertaining a reading experience, but ends up questionable in regards how truthful the account of Strieber's encounter with the paranormal really is.

Something I noticed quickly was that Strieber starts out describing his abduction by alien "visitors" (he's not sure if they're actual extraterrestrials or more supernatural entities masquerading as such) as depicted in the hypnosis therapy session he went into later, then the stuff about how he at first remembered the weird experiences with an owl appearing near his window and him sleeping uneasily. Makes it feel more like a film where you see the protagonist abducted by aliens in terms that make things clear to the viewer, then following him getting to face what really happened. Given how much the use of hypnotic regression therapy has come under criticism especially in regards to fantastic subject matter like UFO abductions (see Susan Clancy's books about the subject), I end up thinking that whatever weird things Strieber experienced they might not have happened the way he describes they did.

Indeed one gets the impression that the more weird things about Whitley Strieber's life surface, the more Strieber looks like an unreliable narrator or at the least a person with an unusually weak mental barrier between fantasy and reality. People reading this review might know the famous anecdote about how Strieber changed his memory about whether or not he had really been present at a high profile school shooting, but Strieber tells even stranger stories about remembered having been to France and Italy which he even told at length about in interviews... only to then visit those countries and learn they looked nothing like he remembered. Strieber suggests these might be implanted "screen memories" for alien abductions, but all the explanations Strieber considers end up raising more questions than they answer.

What I do appreciate about "Communion", though, in addition to how entertaining a narrative Strieber has constructed, is that it really hammers home how much "high strangeness" surrounds the UFO sighting/alien contact phenomenon. In particular, Strieber emphasises the similarity to mediaeval stories of fairies and elves as well as lore surrounding angels and demons, even vampires. Notice the painting of the alien visitor on the cover, and its physiognomy: Long thin face with a low forehead, high cheekbones, small nose and mouth, pointy chin. That's also how modern high fantasy fiction (eg "Warhammer") depicts elves, as well as how the Vinca culture in Neolithic Eastern Europe depicted their deities. David Bowie kinda looked like that now that I think of it, and guess what he portrayed one of the vampire protagonists in the film version of Strieber's own "The Hunger"!

Strieber ends up at very different conclusions than the "Unit 731 from Outer Space" narrative of stock UFO mythology, instead suggesting that the "aliens" might be the same supernatural guide entities whom shamans encounter on vision quests, beings that have taken the guise of gods, demons, angels, elves depending on how the human cultures they interact with depict superhuman intelligences. I should add this is the same camp as John Keel arrived in a decade before in UFOs Operation Trojan Horse, but it's only Keel's fellow New Age hippies who read his books. Different story with Strieber, whose fanbase overlaps with those of other mainstream horror/fantasy authors from his generation like Stephen King and Anne Rice.

There are also some strange and disturbing stories about Strieber's wife and son having had various seemingly supernatural experiences through their lives. I am in no doubt that something weird has happened to them but not sure it happened exactly as described here. Perhaps books like this are better viewed as religious texts, and debating their literal truth is about as useful as debating the literal truth of the Bible?
Profile Image for Benjamin Atkinson.
153 reviews14 followers
March 19, 2015
If I had felt this supposedly true alien abduction story was in any way factual, then I would have given it five stars. Whitley Strieber is B-level horror and sf author and has been for many years before and after "the event." Communion is an extremely frightening and exciting novel. It sucked me in from page one and I did not put it down until the last page. I feel like a little bit of a jerk, by calling him out like this but, I have spent a lot of time researching credible paranormal events, activities, and sightings. The result is that there are very few that pass any type of scientific rigor. Once again, as persuasive as Communion seems, it just does not hold up to the cold light of reason. My main example, is Whitley's insistence that the aliens left a mark on his ear, that no matter how many times he tries to have it removed simply grows right back. He even has a doctor, on the special features of the movie attest to this "fact." Well, for the right price you can get some doctors to say just about anything. Dentists used to go on the radio and television and tell people, paid by Hershey Chocolate, Inc., that eating Hershey bars is good for your teeth. Right. Look, if all this had happened to Whitley and he had spent the time and money to novelize five or six books on the topic, why did he never offer to go on National television and have the a panel of independent medical experts examine his alien implant. If he did, and they concurred that he, in fact, did have an implant of extra-terrestrial or at least unexplained origin on his person, then that would be a world changing event. Why has he not done this? No one seems to ask these questions. I mean this would be the first proven contact with alien life in the history of mankind. It is not believable, sorry Whitley. I loved your book, but your energy level and persistence in getting your story out, has not been matched by your desire for independent scientific rigor. In this way, you are somewhat of a dilettante.
Profile Image for Shelby Kollin.
334 reviews15 followers
April 28, 2019
The way this was written could at times be hard to follow and I didn't find that it had a very good flow to it. This very much sounds like the rantings of a man who has experienced traumatic events and doesn't know what to make of it. Whitley comes up with a lot of different ideas about what his and others experiences could mean, what they are, and why they're happening. He does not claim to know a thing. He remains open and is even a skeptic himself despite being tested multiple times as sane.

If you've read anything by Budd Hopkins, this story won't exactly be new for you. However, I did appreciate the different take and hearing what ideas Whitley came up with. Events such as these are very full of speculation and it's good to hear as many sides as possible in order to keep our minds open about it. It's also important to understand that people who have had these experiences are scared. Regardless of if it was an actual visitor from somewhere unknown or if it was a figment of their imagination, for them, it's real, and they're scared and they're anxious and they're confused.

This is a good book to open the mind to new ideas and to discuss with believers and skeptics alike on the topic of aliens, UFOs, group delusions, time travel, Gods, the powers of the mind, and more.
Profile Image for Bryce Holt.
Author 3 books15 followers
February 7, 2011
This is one of those embarrassingly bad books where the author begins the book with a repetitious, "No, guys, I am so seriously-serious. I'm not lying about this!" and you're like, "Yes you are." It astonishes me that so many people from the late-80's were duped into believing this knucklehead! The worst thing for me is that I want to believe, but guys and books like this are what steal away any belief in it. So sad...
Profile Image for Frank.
Author 34 books112 followers
March 22, 2014
I read this in the early 90s. It was haunting and preposterous at the same time. Any scrap of credibility Strieber had was killed when he started releasing follow up books.
At the time, it was fun to read and be a part of this booka a cultural phenomenon.
After all these years, this book remains "sticky" in my mind.
Profile Image for Thomas Stroemquist.
1,520 reviews126 followers
September 21, 2015
Not badly written and some happenings have traces of suspense, but the author's insistence that these are true events brings down readability. Still, if you are curious, this is the one to read. Later books have less story and more ramblings.
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