Nostradamus was a gifted prophet, a seer of the future and even of the... futures.

Oct 23, 2007 (Updated Oct 23, 2007)
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Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Teaches like a text. Informs like a reference. But entertains like a story.

Cons:This book is truly hard to put down.

The Bottom Line: Make this book part of your library. It will give you years of enjoyment. Carry it with you whenever you anticipate a period of waiting. The time will fly.

There are many many books written about the 16th century prophet, Nostradamus. When I decided to buy a book about Nostradamus I purposefully sought out one that was written before 9/11/01 because it was predictions of this event I was interested in finding, not interpretations by Monday morning quarterbackers.

Nostradamus, The Complete Prophecies by John Hogue was by far the right choice. This book‘s text was written in 1997 and at the time of my purchase it had been reprinted twice-in 1999 and in 2000. It contains 910 pages of text and another 50 pages of bibliography and index. The last page is the dedication and acknowledgements.

The introduction is a quick and interesting read about how Mr. Hogue first became interested in Nostradamous and how he proceeded through his journey of learning all he could about this fascinating prophet. Although this is the first book of Hogue's for me, it is not his first book about Nostradamus. He has been studying the man and his life and prophecies for decades.

His introduction, cleverly entitled "A history of the future" reveals that in his earlier books he touched on and interesting theory. That is, perhaps we find some of the prophecies obscure or incomprehensible not because Nostradamus was not familiar with the things he saw in his visions (airplanes, for example) but maybe because some of the futures foreseen are alternate ones. Farfetched? Not so much. Check out science's latest views on parallel universes and time. But I digress.

The introduction is followed by a six page chapter on the life of Nostradamus. This is where you first discover that Hogue can mix the subjective and the objective without clouding the soup. He includes the opinions of others with his own in such a way that he gives a very clear formula for you to get the most from what is written. There is never a feel of my way or the highway from this author. Yet his confidence and competence are certainly evident and a powerful force in what you take away from the text.

His writing style is informative without being tedious. To the contrary, it is quite enjoyable with facts presented with storybook ease.

From the chapter on Nostradamus' life, you proceed to "Guidelines for reading Nostradamus". This is brilliant. Again, Hogue uses his ability to impart important information with a seasoning of humor to enable you to get the very most from all that is to follow. The guidelines explained are as follows:
Punctuation portents
Names, localities
Proper names in uncommon places
Insignias as portents
Time: quatrain indexing as prophecy
Suggested ways to untangle the obscurity (including a fulfilled prophecy, a partially fulfilled prophecy, an alternative or quantum future prophecy, a near future prophecy, distant-future prophecy, and a gibberish prophecy)
Common mistakes made by interpreters (including latter-day dilettantes, predatory debunkers, "Nostradamus says...", Nostradamus, the darling of the tabloids and code-breaking Nostradamus)
A word on the old medieval French and my translation. This last guideline I found to be invaluable so don't pass if up. Even is you just scan it for now, be familiar and unafraid to return here to remind yourself of the useful points made. It contains 8 points of technicalities and examples to illustrate those points. It also contains a section-about half a page-called "important points of style". It explains clearly Hogue's own style of writing and how to use it to your advantage so that you never have to second guess what you have read.

Now we come to the meat of the book. The prophecies themselves. These are headed up by a preface which is Nostradamus' own preface to his prophecies. It is a fascinating read and includes the actual rituals that the prophet would employ to bring about the visions that formed his prophecies. I was enthralled.

The prophecies section continues in chronological order. But do not let that mislead you. While each prophecy is written as he experiences it, that does not mean that the events about which he is writing are in order themselves. In other words, something written in the same century (this is a division of his writings-not a named century in time) or even in the same quatrain (a quatrain is sort of like a numbered stanza ) may be centuries apart in the time of its predicted occurrence.

One of the best features of this book is that the original French version of the quatrain written down by Nostradamus appears in one column, on the left of the page and an English translation is provided on the right side of the page. Below these columns is the interpretation or interpretations of the words authored by Nostradamus.

Just in case you are not at all familiar with Nostradamus, I should point out that he was a French man who lived in the early 1500s. Prophets back then did not get the kudos that those of today enjoy. Quite the contrary. They were viewed by many as either insane or evil and could even be prosecuted for such heresy as predicting the future. Therefore, Nostradamus wrote cryptically and in code, employing many methods of doing so. Those are listed in the section "Reading Nostradamus" mentioned earlier.

Anyway, between the symbolism, code and language issue (even a Frenchman may have some trouble with the French of the 16th century) there is naturally plenty of room for interpretation. Hogue does a very good job of stating his own opinions as well as those of others whether they are authors of today or centuries ago.

The index provided in this book is one of the best I've seen. So you want to know about what Nostradamus had to say about a certain subject-Napoleon, Hitler, the three anti-christs, Prince Charles, space travel, life on mars, our future with dolphins? Just start your search in the awesome index. It lists every page that contains the subject you want to know about.

Remember my reason for buying this book in the first place? As I pointed out, this book was written before 9-11-01 so it's not like you can look up that day in the index but...check out pages 214-215. As with all the prophecies of course, these predictions are left up to interpretation but...hey, I'm just sayin'...

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