This is a book of two halves. The first is a comprehensive look in to the crop circle phenomenon and the personalities behind it. The second seems to be an entirely different, but connected, book. I’ll come to that later.
The first nine chapters about crop circles are incredibly detailed and the author has clearly done his research and knows this subject inside out. He discusses the first documented circle from 1678 (The Mowing Devil) and goes through the crop circle heyday of the early nineties and the antics of Doug and Dave, international media interest and even visits from the Men in Black.
Michael Hesemann has spent many months in and around the fields of the West Country where most of the reports seem to originate and took with him a cameraman for documenting his work. He also travels to Hampshire following the crop circle makers and cerealogists (as they are known) as they discover new and even more complex formations in a wide variety of crops.
The most interesting aspect of the this first part is the explosion of media interest from both the BBC and Nippon TV, including an item on BBC Breakfast and even an admission of involvement from musical pranksters the KLF. It’s remarkable to think that this little corner of England was the centre of an international, ancient phenomenon – but that would not last…
The Ministry of Defence turned up, apparently to debunk the whole thing in Operation Blackbird, and admitted as much to the press. They were overtaken by the now infamous duo of Doug and Dave who claimed to have made most of the circles by themselves using only a board and a length of string. Highly implausible given the intense complexity of some of the designs and the poor quality of their own admitted circles. This was enough for the steam to be let out from the whole crop circle movement and most people drifted away, presumably to other fortean subjects.
The first part then is quite sensible about crop circles. Yes Hesemann wanders in to UFO territory and a bit of New Age mysticism creeps in, but we’ve all been there.
The second part from chapter 10 on reads as if it’s a different book. Hesemann heads straight in to psychics, Egpytian pyramids, Nibiru (just google it), alien beings and the geometry of Mars. Without stopping for breath he then covers abductions, cattle mutilations, lots and lots of photos of flying saucers and Native American rock carvings. I get the impression he’s connecting dots without checking to see if they can be connected. I’m all for wacky theories about the world we live in but even I stumbled at his all-encompassing brief.
He ends by summarising the phenomenon as our planet talking to us and guiding us to live in harmony with it.
I don’t think that’s the right answer, but I can’t argue with him.