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P.M.H. Atwater can’t tell you everything he learned when he died, and after talking to hundreds of others that died. But he can tell you some of it.

Atwater weaves narrative anecdotes collected from Near Death Experience (NDE) into a tight, sometimes stressful-to-read narrative. In his work, he finds that while the NDE does not offer a universal experience, a significant amount of people do share similar experiences. Children may encounter the spirits of miscarried or aborted siblings, two-thirds of those interviewed reported being greeted by a light, and those who led questionable lives prior to the NDE indeed found themselves facing different types of darkness.

This book has already met with controversy. Atwater acknowledges that there are other professionals in the field of NDE study that object to his work. “In March 2010 I was labeled a ‘dangerous influence’ by a fellow researcher. He begged me to stop destroying the research he is so passionate about. His gripe? I don’t do double-blind studies with a control group, and I dare to broach topics such as shamanism. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I am not a scientist. I am an observer and analyst who specializes in fieldwork. My protocol is that of a police investigator. I cross-check my findings with different people in different parts of our country at different times. Since over 70 percent of the medical procedures used today came from professionals who work as I do, I never once hesitated in the strength and purpose of my mission.”

How a person might put together a control group and a complete study for almost but not-quite dying is a puzzle. Hollywood has made movies demonstrating why the practice is illegal.

For those that are curious, or who seek affirmation concerning their own NDE, this book is highly recommended. Atwater writes in an accessible but convincing style, and he does not judge his findings. He follows up with some subjects many years later, and through that work identifies patterns of behavior that he charts over the course of twenty years after the NDE.

This is well worth a read for those deeply curious as to what may greet you when you die.


~ review by Diana Rajchel

Author: P.M.H. Atwater
Hampton Roads, 2011
pp. 288, $19.95

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