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Synopsis: A psychiatrist shares the fruits of his forty-year search for evidence of "old souls," the spirits of the dead who travel from body to body, bringing the reader on a lively globe-trotting trek in search of stories about this spiritual phenomenon. 75,000 first printing. Tour.

Review: As our understanding and awareness of who and what we are advances through the grueling gauntlet of scientific process, we continually face a debilitating dilemma: we must simultaneously question everything and at the same time proceed as if we know something. As a result we continually battle ourselves, questioning the ground on which we stand while using that same ground to prove our questions irrelevant. It's a gift, then, when a writer emerges who will grapple with any of these battles at the event horizon between science and conjecture and take himself wholly into the fray, reporting back to us the subtle forces at work within the storm and how those forces play upon him and the subject he explores.

In Old Souls, journalist Tom Shroder manages this feat and hands us a volume that is considerable and engaging. Not only do we explore the work of a brave and committed researcher on the slippery slope of reincarnation, we are also treated to a remarkable tour of worlds foreign to us: human existence in post-war Beirut and in the depths of poverty in India. Through the entire journey, Mr. Shroder keeps the primary question lively, carrying the reader through to a closing bit of personal memoir that brilliantly ties the book together into a provocative whole.

Whether you believe in reincarnation or not, you can't help but appreciate Mr. Shroder's disciplined, scrupulously fair, and soul-searching explication. Along the way, we learn immensely about the process as it is revealed and a great deal about exploration itself. The book works on many levels, and readers will benefit from them all. --Donald A. Freas

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