Book Reviews

I regularly get asked to review books for journals and periodicals so I thought I’d share some of the books I have reviewed. Keep checking the blog for new reviews.

I Close My Eyes to See: The Dan Rhema Story as Told to Kevin Wilson   ISBN: 978-0-615-43042-3

When someone has a near-death experience (NDE), they usually undergo a profound spiritual transformation. Not only is their life thrown into turmoil through (sometimes) physical injury but more so from the deep spiritual insights gained during the experience. The experience is so unlike any other human experience that words fail to communicate the full intensity and essence of the experience.

While travelling inMexicowith his wife, Susan, Dan Rhema contracted Dengue Fever and Spinal Meningitis which led to a near-death experience. This book wonderfully conveys Dan’s journey of his near-death experience through both words and art.

Through his art, Dan succeeds in conveying the essence of his experience which words are inadequate to describe. As a result of his NDE Dan received ‘artistic inclinations and creative compulsions that did not exist before’. His words compliment his art which has so much more to say about an experience that is beyond words. Although I am not much of an artist I was struck by the vibrancy and powerful intensity of the art. I wanted to turn the pages faster to look at the next image and then I had to look at the whole book again to take in the images.

This beautifully illustrated book is unique in that there are few words but the images speak volumes. The art consists of both paintings and sculptures that Dan was inspired to construct from objects found in the desert. The paintings are powerful, vibrant and rich, almost shamanistic with many resembling primal images seen in ancient cave paintings around the world. His sculptures are striking.

Dan Rhema is not the person he was before he contracted the illnesses. He underwent changes in personality as well as extensive memory loss. His artistic abilities are not merely attributable to his illness but to Dan’s conviction that he now lives with a foot in two worlds. It seems that Dan has tapped into the collective unconscious and brought his experience to life through his art.

In this powerful book Dan has processed his NDE through his art and let go of his previous existence as Dan to embrace the new Dan.

The book succeeds in conveying the depths and complexities of a NDE in a way that words can’t.  

For more information on Dan Rhema’s work visit:



Theater of Clouds: A Near Death Memoir

 by Ken Ebert (Self Published) ISBN 9781460976258

 In 1984 Ken Ebert experienced a NDE during a freak cycling accident. His encounter with a ‘celestial Being of light’ left him with a choice of whether to stay in the new magical place he found himself in or to return to the life he had been so suddenly extricated from.

This book is the culmination of Ken Ebert’s twenty-seven year search for an understanding of his NDE. It is beautifully written and highlights that not all NDEs leave the experiencer with only feelings of bliss and happiness. As is the case of many NDErs, although Ken describes his experience as ‘realer than real’ he was also left with its legacy of trying to fit into a world where he felt he no longer fitted.

 The book spans the twenty-seven years following his NDE and recalls the difficulties with coming to terms with his NDE and the ways it impacted on his relationships with others. Although his physical injuries healed quickly (unusually quickly in most instances described) it seems that his psychological and spiritual needs were completely ignored by others and like so many other NDErs he was left to cope alone to make sense of something that made little sense at the time.

 While striving for answers Ken meanwhile was open to the synchronicities in his life which had meaning for him. He describes some obvious after effects of the NDE such as heightened intuition and increased ability to heal which was very noticeable when the severe injuries of a cat healed within a few weeks of being around Ken.

 The writing of this book has been cathartic for Ken but, again like so many other NDErs, it is still apparent that the integration of his NDE into his life is still ongoing. This highlights the importance of our society having a greater knowledge of the NDE and the impact it can have one one’s life.

 This book is an honest exposition of the personal aspects of Ken’s life post NDE in his own words. It serves well to draw attention to some unpleasant after effects that many NDErs are left with and will be a source of validation and comfort to many who are also going through or have gone through a similar struggle. The book highlights well some of the complexities arising from NDEs that are all too easily ignored by many trying to explain away this very intriguing phenomenon. Ken’s testimony would be helpful to those seeking a greater understanding of the NDE, others who are also trying to come to terms with their NDE and also for the partners of NDErs who wish to be supportive and understand the changes in the NDErs life.  

The first three chapters of the book are available to read free of charge at Ken’s website:

10 Responses to “Book Reviews”

  1. Max_B August 13, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

    I’ve just finished reading Erlendur Haraldsson’s new book “The Departed Among The Living”. This provides lots of hard data and statistics, and first hand accounts from a survey conducted in 1974-75 in Iceland, where the researchers asked “Have you ever been aware of the presence of a deceased person?”. During the following years, detailed personal interviews were conducted with over 450 people who responded with a ‘yes’, and these accounts form the basis of the book.

    If like me, you accept that NDE’s hint at some sort or interconnectivity between us all, then ghost like phenomena which is experienced by the living around the time of the deceased death, or shortly afterwards, would seem to be somehow related to the same dying process.

    I found the book fascinating, some of the accounts are truly mind-bending, and extremely challenging to incorporate into my personal ideas about space, time and consciousness. Highly recommended!

    • Dr Penny Sartori August 13, 2012 at 5:56 pm #

      Thanks for posting this Max. The book sounds really interesting, I’m going to check it out right now. I’ve been lucky enough to have met Erlendur Haraldsson and had dinner with him. His work is really interesting and he is very dedicated to continuing to provide high quality research in this field of study.

      I’m sure the other followers of the blog will find this book to be of interest too.

    • Lee October 27, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

      Thanks for this Max-I will buy it based on what you wrote. Some noted that the book had way too much in the way of statistics so that was somewhat of a turn off but I see that there is far more to this book than just stats.

      • Max_B November 6, 2012 at 8:44 am #

        Well I liked it Lee – hope it doesn’t disappoint – I haven’t got the book to refer to, as I’ve lent it to a friend, but I found the detailed stats themselves really interesting.

  2. Max_B April 6, 2013 at 8:22 pm #

    Just finished reading George Ritchie’s ‘Return from Tomorrow’ in which he describes his near death experience.

    It’s very interesting, because he illustrates his OBE visual experiences with such richness of feeling, and later provides information on what was ‘actually’ happening around him during the period of his death.

    I found Ritchie’s description of his out of body experience in Chapter 4 (prior to the light appearing), and the feelings which he recounts, to be in broad agreement with the ‘actual’ events of that night from the Ward Boy’s perspective who found his body, as described in Chapter 8.

    Ritchie’s OBE is garbled, and disjointed, the imagery flaps around between real impressions/imagery and dream-like imagery evoking feelings, but all the major events and feelings from that night are definitely there.

    I’m left more convinced than ever, that third party/parties fields are interacting with the patients dysfunctional brain.

    • Dr Penny Sartori April 9, 2013 at 9:22 am #

      HI Max, thats really interesting. I really enjoyed reading that book and it was one of the first NDE books I read. I can’t remember too much about it though so I will go back to it. I think what you are saying is very important because it gives another perspective and another avenue to explore when considering a possible explanation for these experiences. As your ideas are based on your own personal OBE and also your extensive reading and personal investigation I think you have a unique insight. This is something for future researchers to consider when planning further research. I will certainly keep this in mind with any future research I undertake.

      • Max_B April 9, 2013 at 5:59 pm #

        Thanks Penny. It’s a tiny little book isn’t it… finished in around couple of hours.

        If you ever get around to comparing Chapter 4 with the start of Chapter 8, I’d be interested in your thoughts, or indeed anybody else.

      • Dr Penny Sartori April 10, 2013 at 10:39 am #

        Hi Max, I’ll check it out sometime in the next few weeks. I’m a bit swamped with preparing lectures at the moment but I’ll dig it out from my bookshelves for when I get a few spare minutes. I’ll let you know what I think.

  3. mr faeroy May 23, 2014 at 2:46 pm #

    hello dr penny sartori i found your book most intresting on the subjet of. near (death experinces…. ) my parnter has had a nds 18 years ago and found the book most helpfull i thinkyou have done great deal of work on this subjet ….over meany years we have add us to the group and to the blogs if you do any more reseach on nds. then we would love to be a part of that or anything that can help others ,,,i think this is what you are ment to do on your path… i most say it was one the best books i have read in a good 25 years it has been nicely set out and explanied to all levels of people who are reading it, i do hope to read more of your work.and those who work with you, thanks again glenn and alison

    • Dr Penny Sartori July 30, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

      Hi Glenn and Alison,

      Thank you so much for your very kind comments. I would like to hear more about your partner’s NDE, if she gets chance to write about it you can email it to me at (I’m currently receiving lots of emails so there may be a delayed response but I will reply).

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