Category Archives: free ebooks

Free history ebook takes you down a remarkable Ohio River journey


Lyman C. Draper was a driven historian who was determined that certain events of American history should never be forgotten. The result of his lifetime’s work are a number of fascinating manuscripts like this one, Narrative of a Journey Down the Ohio and Mississippi in 1789-90.

This account records the experiences of Maj. Samuel S. Forman who was a member of a large party that traveled the length of the Ohio River in crudely constructed barges. Included with the party were more than 100 black slaves.

Born in 1765, Forman was a young man in his early twenties at the time of his Ohio River adventure. His company navigated to the Mississippi where they sailed south to establish a plantation in Natchez. Natchez is located in the present-day state of Mississippi, which was still a holding of Spain at the time. Spain would relinquish the territory about a year later.

The source of the Ohio River is in Pennsylvania and flows westward through West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana before flowing into the Mississippi in Illinois.

At the time of Forman’s journey in 1789, the territories along the river were home to a marvelously rich collection of native American peoples, forts and the various scattered outposts of Europeans settlers. It was wild and dangerous country loaded abundant wildlife and colorful characters.

For the history buff this rare manuscript is a treasure, not just for its overall narrative, but for those incidental historic asides which jump out at you like nuggets washed from a stream. For example:

* We learn that the first First Lady, Martha Washington, was a chunky woman. Major Forman was lucky to be near at hand at the the second inauguration of George Washington and he notes that Mrs. Washington looked “pretty fleshy.”

* The city of Cincinnati owes it establishment to a love infatuation. A certain Ensign Francis Luce was charged with establishing a block house at a site called North Bend, but he caught site of a “beautiful black-eyed lady” who was the wife of a settler. The husband found it necessary to move from North Bend to remove his wife from the strenuous advances of Ensign Luce — and the location they moved to became Cincinnati.

Reading this evinces a tremendous sense of sadness for me. That’s because today the Ohio is the most polluted river in America. It was once a vital artery of life for the Native Americans. The river was the lifeblood of their rich and imaginative culture, as well as a source-mother for abundant wildlife.

The journey of Samuel Forman was the beginning of another kind of bleak journey — toward the devastation of the native population, and the toxic environmental degradation of what was once one of the most life-giving bodies of water in the world.

Not anymore.

Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: MINNESOTA PARANORMALA


Follow @KenKorczak

“Progeny” by Patrick C. Greene follows a tried and true formula for a scary monster yarn featuring the legendary Bigfoot, but a tad too much formula for me


As a person who reads more than 100 books a year, it’s easy for me to quickly spot patterns and formulas after reading just the first chapter or two of a novel. So it swiftly became apparent that PROGENY would deliver its plot in tried and true, but familiar formulaic fashion — and it does so to the end.

There’s nothing wrong with writing a formula or genre novel as long as the rendering is skillfully handled by the author, and PATRICK C. GREENE manages that here.

On the other hand, such a book will necessarily embody a certain blandness. Think of it like going to a fast food restaurant: It’s familiar, you go there because you like it; you know what to expect; the food will be good enough; you’ll get full and happy with the price — but you won’t fool yourself into believing that you just feasted at a fine bistro.

Progeny is like good fast food. It reads much like a made-for-TV movie screenplay for the Science Fiction Channel. All the standard props are here: (a) some unsavory, despicable bad guys, (b) some sweet and nice good guys, and, (c) a monster in the wilderness. I don’t have to tell you what is going to happen, do I? Okay, I will anyway, and don’t worry, there’s no need for a spoiler alert warning because you already know the formula. You’ve seen it a thousand times. It goes this way:

Patrick C. Greene

Some of the bad guys – out of hubris, greed, or both – will be horribly mangled and killed by the monster. The good guys will be in grave danger, but they’ll come out okay after some close scrapes and terrible frights. The bad guys will be at odds with the good guys to bolster the subplot. Speaking of subplots, you know there will be a lovely female character – one of the evil guys will have the hots for her –but she’ll fall in love with the good guy somewhere along the way. This will make the evil guy even madder and creates more tension.

The good guys will emerge from their harrowing encounter with the monster enlightened, amazed, humbled and giddy to be alive. The bad guys? Most of them will be dead. Their manner of dispatch will be painful, bloody and shocking.

So in Progeny the “monster” is Bigfoot, or Sasquatch, if you prefer. But you could switch in just about any creepy beastie — the Creature of the Black Lagoon, a giant ant, a mutant man-mosquito hybrid, chupacabra, a space-alien fiend – and everything would play out more or less the same.

Sometimes you’re in the mood for a popcorn movie, or a decent but basic page-turner you can read on the beach. Well, when you’re in that kind of mood, and you like scary monster stuff (like me) – this book is your choice.

Ken Korczak is the author of: MINNESOTA PARANORMALA

Follow @KenKorczak

Free mystery novel ebook: “The Mystery of Lincoln’s Inn” is a pure delight, almost certainly based on true events of a major scandal which rocked Canada nearly a century ago


Robert Machray is described as a writer of “simple-minded mysteries” in the Oxford Companion to Edwardian Fiction, and this novel The Lincoln’s Inn Mystery would probably qualify as that. In my view, however, it rises above simple-minded. Certainly, this is not a work of literary depth – but it is a well-plotted yarn that is a delight to read and highly entertaining.

What’s even more intriguing is the story behind the novel.

As it turns out, Robert Machray was the nephew of the Anglican Bishop ROBERT MACHRAY, an extremely important figure in Canada from the mid-1800s into the early part of the 20th Century. He was instrumental in the development of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.

Bishop Machray was also elected the “First Primate of all Canada” by the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada. He was the bishop of Rubert’s Land” a huge area within the vast land of Canada.

In 1874, Bishop Machray’s two nephews, John and Robert Machray, were sent from Scotland to live under his care. John was educated at the University of Manitoba and went on to become an extremely powerful and later notorious public official in Winnipeg. He was eventually convicted of embezzling and/or misappropriating $1.8 million in funds from a variety of sources. (John Machray)

This was an enormous amount of money in early 1900s Canada, making John Machray something of the “Bernie Madoff” of his time, at least in this region of southern Canada. He died in prison in 1933.

So what’s remarkable to me is that in this tale a criminal British lawyer, Cooper Silwood, has embezzled funds from his own law firm and partners, Eversleigh, Silwood and Eversleigh. It is almost certainly inspired by the machinations of John Machray.

And yet, this book was published in 1910, some 22 years before Robert Machray’s brother was finally prosecuted and convicted. It seems amazing to me that author Machray would write a novel that is so obviously based on the shady practices of this brother. One might think the book would have tipped off the Powers-That-Be that something was rotten in Denmark … er, I mean, Canada!

It makes me wonder if the author was making a kind of back door attempt to flush out his own brother. Like his famous uncle, Robert Machray was ordained clergy of the Church of England. Even though he resigned his clerical duties to pursue the life of a writer, perhaps he maintained a high degree of moral propriety, and thus may have been disgusted about what he apparently knew about his brother.

Anyway, you don’t have to appreciate the extraordinary background to enjoy The Mystery of Lincoln’s Inn. All the juicy elements of a great mystery are here. There’s a dastardly criminal. There are pure-of-heart good guys and women who get caught up in an agonizing web of deceit, greed and corruption. A mysterious death and a jilted lover also thicken the plot and add depth to the narrative.

But what I really liked about this book is a hint of an understated cynical humor. This is almost a black comedy. It’s as if the intelligent, sophisticated and former Anglican minister Robert Machray found the folly of his fellow human beings not just sad, but slightly ludicrous.

The book is set mostly in London, but I was delighted that some of the events take place here in my native Minnesota. I think any lover of mystery novels will find this a first-class read. It hasn’t lost it’s edge or relevance despite being published more than a century ago.

Note: This book is available as a free download ebook in all formats on the Project Gutenberg site HERE.

Ken Korczak is the author of: THE FAIRY REDEMPTION OF JUBAL CRANCH

Follow @KenKorczak

Celtic Mysteries book by Philip Imbrogno and Marianne Horrigan has no credibility now that co-author Imbrogno has been shown to be a fraud


Wow – let me tell you something, it pays to do a little research on the side before you prepare to review a book.

I was about to give this book, CELTIC MYSTERIES: WINDOWS TO ANOTHER DIMENSION IN AMERICA’S NORTHEAST maybe a “B” or perhaps something like a 7-out-of-10 rating – then I stumble on the “big news.”

Apparently one of the authors, the prolific Philip J. Imbrogno, who is among the most respected paranormal researchers, is a fraud. That is, Imbrogno apparently has not only been “padding his resume” all these years, but also seems to have been lying about a lot of other life experiences as well – including having served in Vietnam as a member of an elite Special Forces unit.

Imbrogno claims no less that this:

Holds an undergraduate and graduate degrees in physics, astronomy and chemistry from the University of Texas and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2010, awarded a Ph.D. in theoretical chemistry from MIT. Staff member of the McCarthy Observatory in New Milford, Connecticut, and is a founder and former director of the Astronomical Society of Greenwich, and former director of the Bowman Observatory.

But then well-known skeptic Lance Moody decided one day – apparently just for the heck of it – to see if he could verify Imbrogno’s credentials with MIT. The folks at MIT professed to have never heard of him. They said they never graduated any Philip Imbrogno from anything.

To make a long story short, Imbrogno’s credibility has been destroyed. He announced he is “leaving the paranormal field.” The co-author of his latest book, Rosemary Ellen Guiley, announced on her web site that she has cut ties with Imbrogno, and also stated she was “blindsided” by the recent revelations.

So what about this book? I mean, It also has a co-author, Marianne Horrigan, whose reputation is still intact, I assume. I don’t know. It’s a tragedy, I guess. She probably gets taken down with her co-author, at least for the sake of this book. Remember, Imbrogno first became famous and respected as co-authoring a landmark UFO book with the late great J. Allen Hynek.

It’s too bad because the information in the book appears based on some solid in-the-field legwork and careful research in the dusty archive rooms of libraries and historical societies.

Celtic Mysteries makes the case that certain stone structures scattered throughout New England were built by ancient visitors to North America – Druids, Celts, Irish Monks, perhaps even the Phoenicians.

The evidence they present is somewhat impressive. The general consensus among the scientific community and public is that these stone structures are nothing more than root cellars built by early American colonists. But the authors show that some of the stone structures are marked with characters of Ogam – an early medieval alphabet used by the ancient Celts. This claim was verified by respected Harvard scholar Dr. Barry Fell.


Imbrogno also claims to have found an obsidian dagger in one of the chambers which was examined at the University of Pennsylvania. It was determined to have originated in either Greenland or Iceland and may be at least 4,000 years old.

Imbrogno and Horrigan also give us exacting details and descriptions of a variety of the stone structures, and based on what they tell us, it seems impossible to believe all of them could have been merely root cellars. For example, some contain at least what appear to be “sacrificial tables” and others are multi-chambered and form alignments with astronomical events, such as the spring equinox, similar to Stonehenge in England.

But they also veer wildly into heavy New Agey, nonscientific territory that would make even mild skeptics gasp – as when they bring in psychics who make contact with the spirits of deceased Native Americans and Druid priests.

Yet – what has always made me willing to give Imbrogno something of a pass on his more outlandish claims was the fact that he had stellar credentials – I mean, he is an MIT-trained scientist with a lofty Ph.D in a very exacting scientific field, right? Well … wrong.

Does this mean we should throw out the baby with the bathwater? Could it be that Imbrogno has done legitimate work in the field of UFO investigation and other areas? Does Celtic Mysteries still make a credible argument that stone monuments in New England were built by ancient Europeans? Perhaps, but alas, but it probably doesn’t matter now. Others will have to make the case.

Imbrogno’s credibility is shot.

See also my review of Imbrogno’s: ULTRATERRESTRIAL CONTACT

Ken Korczak is the author of: THE FAIRY REDEMPTION OF JUBAL CRANCH

Follow @KenKorczak

Stay Safe Crime Maps series for Kindle by Michael Gard will show you quickly the “bad parts of town” so you can avoid them if you want to


San Francisco is one of the most interesting, cultured and exciting cities in the United States, and it attracts millions of tourists per year. But like all major cities, it has a dark side – areas or neighborhoods with higher crime rates than others.

The first-time visitor may naturally be wondering where the “good parts’ of town are, and which are the “bad.” You could ask around when you get there, or maybe do a bit of research beforehand – but maybe there is a faster, easier way to get a head’s up.

Michael Gard has stepped in with a quick and convenient solution which leverages the Amazon Kindle. His “STAY SAFE CRIME MAP IN SAN FRANCISCO” is formatted for the Kindle and provides maps of the entire city with those “problematic” areas shaded in with a diagonal cross-hatch pattern.

So this is basically a series of 11 maps, including a key map page, which very quickly and easily shows the reader which sections of the city tend to experience higher crimes. I was viewing this document on my bottom-of-the-line Kindle 6″ black-n-white screen. The streets and names are tiny and somewhat difficult to read, but overall, practical enough. This set of “Crime Maps” will obviously be better viewed with larger devices with larger screens, and color.

Gard also offers some crime tips, and shows some sensitivity in suggesting that the purpose of his document is to not show where the “ghettos” are. He writes: “By no means are all such zones ghettos.” Rather, he is simply suggesting that it doesn’t hurt to know, based on his research, where crime is more likely to occur in San Francisco so that you can avoid those areas if you want to.

I can find no fault with what he’s trying to do here. This is a high-quality document which seeks to serve a need and provide people with useful information.

Ken Korczak is the author of: SECRETS OF A GRANT WRITER, an ebook which reveals inside information Ken learned while working inside and outside the government as a grant writing specialist. Improve your chances of getting a government grant — before you waste any more time, read this ebook to bolster your chance of getting a government or private foundation grant.

Follow @KenKorczak

Free Science Fiction eBook: “Castaways” by Stephen Huff is a Thin Gruel That Will Leave Robust Appetites for Science Fiction Unsatisfied


CASTAWAYS is one of numerous short stories offered for free in the Amazon Kindle store by prolific author STEPHEN HUFF, PH.D. This is one of only two of Dr. Huff’s pieces I have read, so keep in mind I have not made an extensive review of his work. But based on the two I have read, I must admit that I am distressed.

This story involves a distant planet on which a spaceship crash landed, perhaps centuries ago. Many generations later the people who continue to eke out an existence now possess only a mythical memory of their space-faring past. Their leader (and head cook, I guess) is Ulgi, whom everyone refers to as a SynMan – which I presume stands for Synthetic Man – meaning he is a robot.

As it happens, Ulgi has a dire warning for his people – that some kind of “Darkness” is about to descend upon their world. He asks them all cryptically if they are ready to “stock the freezer.” None are willing to oblige Ulgi’s strange suggestion.

The meaning behind “stocking the freezer” is what serves as the lynchpin or payoff of this story – but in my mind, it’s not a lot to hang one’s literary hat on.

The central plot elements of the story are also not terribly original. Crash-landed star travelers who only vaguely remember their origins has been done gazillions of times in science fiction. The concept of “The Dark” is also extremely similar to the scenario made famous in Isaac Asimov’s widely-read short story “Nightfall,” and is also a central factor of the movie “Pitch Black,” to name just two.

So, not high marks for this offering from Mr. Huff, but I plan to sample more of his work.

Ken Korczak is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

Free Astral Travel Book: “The Astral Plane” by C.W. Leadbeater Is Boring, Yet Informative — Dated, But Possibly Useful


Let me begin with a couple statements made by the author of this book, The Astral Plane:

“… the majority of mankind make but very trifling and perfunctory efforts while on earth to rid themselves of the less elevated impulses of their nature, and consequently doom themselves … to a greatly prolonged sojourn in the astral plane …”


“The ordinary man, however, allows himself to be so pitiably enslaved by all sorts of base desires that a certain portion of his lower Manas becomes very closely interwoven with Kama …”

These quotes from the writing of C.W. LEADBEATER are interesting because Mr. Leadbeater was more than once accused of pederasty. At least one man, who was once an 11-year-old boy under his charge, accused Leadbeater of “misusing him.”

Leadbeater himself made no bones about the fact that he encouraged his young male student to masturbate – but his rationale was that this would actually help them stay sexually chaste, and avoid the “bad karma” that could result from sexual escapades. It was Leadbeater’s belief that “release through masturbation” was better than harboring pent up sexual frustrations, and thus would lead to a more disciplined and chaste lifestyle overall.

One should also note that this was the environment of Victorian England, when the bulk of “proper society” considered the “self-touching” an abomination. Merely encouraging someone to masturbate could generate tremendous scandal, and so it can be said that Leadbeater suffered under an oppressive environment. There is some indication that Leadbeater may have acted on his own “impulses” by touching boys inappropriately, but he was never charged with anything, although in one court case, a judge ruled that Leadbeater bore “immoral ideas.”

But, Leadbeater was a maverick in his field. He was a rabble-rouser and nonconformist. His ideas about sexuality might be compared to the free love era of the hippies of the 1960s, which many also thought “perverted” at the time. He began his career in 1879 after being ordained an Anglican priest. But his interests quickly turned to the occult, and so he effectively left his Anglican roots to spend the rest of his life developing the philosophies and structure of the Theosophical Society along with the famous Madam Blavatsky, Annie Besant and others.

He was a prolific writer, and also claimed a number of paranormal abilities, especially clairvoyance and the ability to leave the body via “astral travel.” Here again I should note that some of his clairvoyant vision later proved terribly off-base, such as his psychic detection of a population of humanoid beings living on Mars. (Update comment 12/28/2015: Or maybe he wasn’t so off base? More than one of our modern remote viewers also insist they have perceived intelligent beings living on Mars. Even the military’s most accomplished remote viewer, Joe McMoneagle, claimed to have contacted intelligent beings on Mars, although those he confronted were millions of years in the past. Remote viewers associated with Courtney Brown’s Farsight Institute also claims that human-like beings are living on Mars right now in a vast underground facility).

Anyway, those interested in the topic of astral travel, or out-of-body experiences will find much to ponder in this book, THE ASTRAL PLANE: IT’S SCENERY, INHABITANTS AND PHENOMENON.

It was published in 1895, and so it’s my guess that most readers today will find the style stilted, dense and perhaps even boring – also, since the resurgence of the New Age in the 1960s – many of the ideas presented in The Astral Plane will already be familiar to those who have read widely on the topic.

No doubt, many readers will also find some of the ideas presented here quaint, or smelling of the outrageous superstition of a simpler, less scientific time.

For example, Leadbeater says that real life incidents of “vampire” and even “werewolf” appearances can be explained by attributing these humanoid beasts to a kind of astral energy gone astray — generated by dead people whose sins and failings somehow became corrupted in astral from, and become able to manifest as actual physical creatures on earth.

On the other hand, if portions of any thesis are false, it doesn’t necessarily follow that all else in that thesis is nonsense. Leadbeater’s ideas on astral travel are obviously heavily influenced by ancient Vedic and Hindu thought (he spent much time in India)– in fact, I would hazard a guess that the vast majority of what emerged as the “New Thought” and the Theosophical movement  was a rediscovery and reinterpretation of those precepts embedded ancient Vedic texts.

After all, spiritual adepts – swamis, yogis, Buddhist monks, holy men, holy women, shamans, and medicine men of a dazzling array of traditions have been dealing with the subject of astral travel since the beginning of written language, and in oral tradition before that. And let’s not forget the countless cults of the pagan religions of ancient Egypt, Greece, and the various Middle Eastern locales. Such is the nature of religion and philosophy in that what is old tends to become new again.

So the bottom line: The Astral Plane is mostly a dismal, stilted and pedantic treatment plodding through the painstaking details of what one can expect to confront from an out-of-body experience, and in the astral world. The serious student of astral travel may learn something never before encountered – at the very least, this is an impressive attempt to describe the astral world in exacting detail.

Sure, a lot of it may be nonsense, but sometimes you find scraps of truth in the last and most obscure places you look for it. As the great science fiction writer Philip K. Dick said: “Sometimes the best place to look for the truth is in the trash.”

Ken Korczak is the author of: MINNESOTA PARANORMALA

Follow @KenKorczak

Out of the Night by German-Born Writer Jan Valtin Is An Amazing Book With A Well-Earned Cult Following


One of my favorite things to do when I visit a new city is to find a local used bookstore, go in, prowl the shelves and hunt for treasure. I’m intrigued by big dusty books resting anonymously among the rows, seemingly forgotten.

Recently in such a hallowed venue I spotted a large midnight blue hardcover titled OUT OF THE NIGHT by JAN VALTIN. I flipped to the copyright page and saw it was published in 1941. It was 749 pages. Without looking closer to see what it might be about, I laid down three or four bucks, took it home and started to read.

I quickly discovered I had stumbled upon an extraordinary book!

Out of The Night is the autobiography of a German-born man who became communist spy for the Soviet Union.

At the end of World War I, Valtin was a boy of 14 just trying to get by in a country shattered by war. To say that times were tough after the ruination inflicted upon the land would be a vast understatement. All the basics of life were scarce – food, shelter, jobs, security. Valtin writes:

“I would awake hungry, and was still hungry when I went to sleep. Hunger wiped out the lines between adolescents and full-grown men. A sack of flower was worth more than a human life. When a fruit cart of a peasant from Vierlanden was turned over in the street and a middle-aged man tried to shoulder me aside in the scramble for winter apples, what else could I do but stand up and hit him in the face. I was in my fifteenth year.”

Germany was on its knees and the communists saw great opportunity to inculcate the defeated masses with Marxist philosophy.

Valtin found that working as a gopher and bicycle messenger boy for communist operators was a way to get along in the chaotic environment. His father, a torpedo man in the German navy, never returned home. His mother was unable to provide for him. The only future Valtin saw for himself was to — somehow, some way — ship out to sea. His goal was to hire on as a deck hand for a merchant ship or freighter, starting as the lowest grunt, and work his way up to captain.

But Valtin never broke loose from his connections made with the communists of his youth – and so he injects himself into a hair-raising career of ever-increasing party activity, scheming, manipulations and intrigues. He took on ever-more dangerous assignments, acting as a courier and spying on other German political factions, including the budding fascist movements.

What ensues for Valtine is a life of sizzling danger, international plotting and spy games. He was often in the dark about who he was actually working for. He eventually becomes a double agent, spying also for the brutal German Gestapo, playing both sides off the other. He trucks with supremely dangerous characters and inhabits a shadowy world of mind-blowing complexity and perpetual uncertainty.

It reads like a thrilling John le Carré spy novel, except it’s all true – but wait a minute! – is it really all true?

Well: It eventually came to light that Jan Valtin was the pen name for a man by the name of Richard Krebs. Of course, there’s nothing unusual about a writer publishing under a nom de plume, and considering that he made many enemies along the way, one might expect him to publish under a different name.

However, this autobiography was so incredible it attracted the attention of a lot of smart and resourceful people, including the German writer ERNST VON WALDENFELS. He was able to show – by gaining access to documents released after the fall of communist East Germany in 1990– that a lot of what Krebs claimed to have been doing as a Soviet-Gestapo double agent was greatly embellished or exaggerated. Krebs was also a skilled fiction writer, having published several novels.

On the other hand, large portions of his life story are true – and by any measure – Richard Krebs led an astonishing life of danger and adventure. Incredibly, he later served with the U.S. military in the Philippines during World War II! So he worked for the communists, Nazis and the Americans all at some point in his career! I haven’t even mentioned the times he spent as a sailor, captain of a Soviet ship, a copper miner in South America, and a stint as a prisoner in San Quentin! (He was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon while in the United States).

So, Out of the Night may be an obscure book, but it retains a well-earned cult following today. Readers will receive a vivid inside look of what life was like in Post-World War I Germany, and a greater understanding of how Germany veered off onto the horrifying path leading to the even greater tragedy of World War II. You will also vicariously experience the frightening life of a spy. It’s an amazing book.

Join Ken Korczak in: THE STRANGE UNIVERSE OF DR. 58

Follow @KenKorczak

The Kybalion: Free Ancient Wisdom Is Now a Free eBook: But Is It Truly Wisdom, Or Just Warmed Over New Age Puffery?


If you’re wondering what the word “Kybalion” really means, it’s likely a term cobbled together by the writer, or writers, of this book. It’s probably an amalgamation of the word Kabbalah, the ancient school of Hebrew mysticism, and Cybele, the Greek mother goddess.

So this is suggestive that the information is a mixture of wisdom that has come down through the centuries from more than one tradition. That’s fitting, as the authors say this information is timeless and universal, and remains fundamentally unchanged no matter what culture or historical period it is filtered through.

The authors also claim that this knowledge was given to the rest of humanity by one man,the ancient Egyptian, HERMES TRISMEGISTUS. Was he a real person? No one really knows, but it’s doubtful. At best, most scholars will say he is a “legendary” figure,or perhaps a name which represents a composite of real people who may have existed. The name Hermes Trismegistus is probably derived by combining the name of the Greek god Hermes with the Egyptian god Thoth. Trismegistus itself means “Thrice Knowledgeable.” For millennia, Hermes Trismegistus has been associated with what is known as “hermetic knowledge” or the tradition of HERMETICISM.

But now let’s get back to who wrote THE KYBALION. We know it was published in 1912. The authors are only identified as “The Three Initiates.” No one knows for absolute sure who the author or authors were, but I would hazard that there is some 95% certainty that it was mostly the work of one man: WILLIAM ATKINSON. He may have had help from a couple of other guys, Paul Case and Elias Gurwurz. (Thus the Three Initiates).

But the primary thrust behind The Kybalion is almost certainly Atkinson — a shadowy, mercurial man who is known to have authored at least 100 books similar to this one. He was also an attorney and businessman who seemed to have an unending supply of ambition and energy, not only to produce a huge body of esoteric literature, but also worked robustly at a successful legal career. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1862 and died in 1932.

Atkinson and his fellows were the New Agers of their day. They were at the vanguard of something called NEW THOUGHT – which is comparable to what New Age folks are talking about today – and mostly it’s a lot of the same stuff. This is the kind of information that has been around for centuries, and probably thousands of years, and it keeps re-emerging and getting recycled time again in a new package in every century and culture.

So does this mean that the information in The Kybalion represents genuine ancient wisdom that is universal, undying and something which we should take seriously? Can it have real application in our daily lives? Is it something we should pay attention to and strive to adopt as part of our own philosophies today? Or is is merely a cheapy pulp document — one of dozens churned out by by an early 20th Century rascal who had a reputation as an “occultist?”

There’s no easy answer to these questions. In a general, my own view is that the information presented in The Kybalion is not necessarily false or useless – or even mere superstition – but at the same time, it does not hurt to approach it all with a certain level of healthy pragmatism, and to ask ourselves: “Okay, so what can I really do with this information, if anything?”

For example, one of the primary tenets of the wisdom of Hermes Trismegistus is that the universe we exist within is a “thought form,” or as they put it, “The Principle of Mentalism … The All Is Mind… The Universe Is Mental.”

That would be counter to the most common, scientific mainstream belief today which holds that the universe should be considered fundamentally material, made up of solid matter, and that “mental thoughts” are something less definite. Our mental thoughts are only ideas about or are a reflection that results from confronting all that solid material stuff out there.

True, even some of today’s most hardened scientists might come down somewhere in between pure materialism and a pure “Thought Universe” conception — especially since the advent of quantum mechanics, which has shown that Isaac Newton’s world of classical physics – the billiard ball universe – is not quite as solid, hard or “dead” as we once may have thought it was.

But, anyway, what can we do with this principle today – the idea that we live in a universe that is fundamentally a “mental construct” of some kind?

Well, the implications are many. This idea of mental constructs has generated thousands of New Age books, or greater or lesser quality. Take the recent mega-bestseller “The Secret,” for example. This book suggests that anyone can have anything he or she wants – including fabulous wealth – if they only realize that everything is ultimately mental, and that we can shape our own reality with our thoughts.

No doubt, tens of thousands of people who read The Secret gave it their best shot – they tried to visualize and conjure up stacks of cash for themselves, maybe a Cadillac or a new Porsche, or a nice new home – only to find out that these material objects don’t seem to materialize quite as readily as the theory suggests they should.

The point is, even if we accept the idea that the universe is “mental” or just one big thought form – it clearly is not as easy as it seems to act on that knowledge in a way that will improve our lives, or change our lives, at least in terms of material wealth.

This doesn’t mean that the idea of purely Mental Universe is worthless – it might even be true! – it’s just that, what can do we do with that knowledge, and how can it help us, or can it help us change our world for the better? These are tricky questions.

So the bottom line is, you can look upon the information in The Kybalion in a variety of different ways. The case can easily be made that this document is yet another clever New Age hack job put together by a shadowy figure like William Atkinson as a great way to make money in publishing – or you can make the case that this is truly timeless, universal wisdom that certainly has been reiterated for thousands of years.

The very fact that this kind of information has stood the test of time should not be taken lightly — it suggests something about the universal mythologies human beings cling to, century after century. (And I use the term mythology loosely). That makes it important.

However: The actual application of this ancient wisdom in a way that can make a real difference in your life is not something that is easily done, even if you understand it intellectually.

Join Ken Korczak in: THE STRANGE UNIVERSE OF DR. 58

A Mind Expanding Vision of Life And The Universe From An Islamic Intellectual


This is a fascinating book which I am going to recommend, but I start out with a warning: This is a translation to English, and the job of translating, although adequate, is far from perfect, and often very clumsy. It reads well enough to be understandable, but some readers may find the dicey English phrases and improper grammar distracting while trying to absorb the challenging concepts presented by the original author. (Note: I understand there may have been an update of the editing recently in a new edition of the book, but I have not viewed that edition, if such exists).

Despite this flaw, UNIVERSAL MYSTERIES is a book I hope a lot of people will read. This is exactly the kind of “expanded” perspective on the nature of religion and God concept that millions of people would do well to consider.

AHMED HULUSI is described as an “Islamic Intellectual” in his bio. Born in Istanbul in 1945, he has worked most of his life as a journalist, but has spent many years in the study of Islam and religion, and delving deeply into the mystical element of Islam, Sufism.

Certainly, there isn’t anything in this book that has not been revealed or proposed elsewhere — by other philosophers, Zen masters, Christian monks, New Agers, even secular scientists — but it’s extremely helpful to get yet another take on how to think of, or envision the Universe as one giant “Intelligence Singularity” (my term, not the author’s) that, at its most fundamental level, is the base of all reality, and is something that can never be divided from the “oneness” of itself.

I felt I got a fresh look at a subject I have been long familiar with — I only wish I could recommend this book more strongly, but native speakers of English will be in for an unpleasant surprise if they are not made aware of the awkwardness of the translation. (Although it may have been updated in a new edition).


Free eBook Gems: William the Conqueror by Jacob Abbott


Enter a courtroom in the United States today, especially New England states, and you will hear the balif proclaim: “Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!” That’s Norman French for: “Hearken! Hearken! Hearken!”

And so the titanic influence of one man, William the Conqueror, ripples across the centuries and an ocean to display its effect today. In the year 1066, William, the Duke of Normandy, set sail across the English channel with a mighty force, marched ashore and throttled the army of King Harold, thus taking the English crown and changing western world forever.

Originally published in 1877, educator Jacob Abbott writes like a kindly history teacher speaking to class of high school seniors. His style is lucid and no nonsense. He gives you the facts, but manages to flesh out enough anecdotal and incidental information to make this a bright and interesting read — still fresh more than 125 years after it was written.

This book, and all of Abbott’s MAKERS OF HISTORY series, are short treatments of famous historical figures. They are must reads for those who want a deeper understanding of the incredible people who changed the world in their day, and colored all of history. About the length of short novels, I love Abbott’s short history treatments because they inform an educate, and give you a rich perspective on history, without having to wade through a lot of dry, acedemic textbook-like tomes.

Do youself a favor. Brush up on your history, maybe starting with this fine little book, WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR by Jacob Abbott. It’s a 100% free ebook download for any format, be it Kindle, Nook, PDF of whatever you prefer.

Ken Korczak is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

Free Science Fiction eBook Gems: The Status Civilization, Robert Sheckley

EDITOR’S NOTE: Free eBook gems is part of an ongoing series that reviews great “eBooks you should read” and which are free to anyone to download and enjoy anytime, anywhere.

Review By Ken Korczak

Science fiction is often called the “literature of ideas” and this short novel exemplifies that concept. The idea in “The Status Civilization” is to strand an innocent man convicted of murder on a prison planet where all is topsy-turvy. The only rule of law is that all must break the law. If you don’t break the law, you get into trouble. Murder is the highest ideal of the citizen. Drug addiction is mandatory. They have a church on this planet, but it worships “Evil”, and yes, attendance is required.

The planet Omega is like a space-age Australia back when the British used that contintent to dump off their criminals and social malcontents. New arrivals are criminals joining fellow criminals who must now form their own society. But in this case, all have their memories erased before being stranded on Omega. They are given only one bit of self-knowledge: The crime they committed on Earth.

The hero is Will Barrent, convicted of murder — a murder he no longer remembers, of course. The problem is, he has the nagging feeling he is innocent, and seems to only want to be good and do good. But now he must try to fit in with an entire planet consisting of and run by other criminals.

It’s a terrific premise, and in the hands of Robert Sheckley, one of the true masters of science fiction, this short novel becomes a marvelously entertaining read. Expect nonstop action, and little in the way of description or anything that does not move along the plot. For example, Sheckley wastes no time with describing scenary or filling out the details of the environment of an alien planet — it’s just bare bones movement of the protagonist doing this, and doing that, as he works his way through his terrible situation.

In my personal pantheon of favorite science fiction gods, Robert Sheckley is among the top three. The primary reason is this: He is a master of a certain kind of cynical, dry and wry irony that is nothing less than hilarious. It’s Sheckley’s extremely unique STYLE that separates him from the run-of-the-mill sf writer.

What really pushes this seemingly pulp yarn over the top to a solid 5-star book is the brilliant way it ends, revealing an unexpected depth of meaning and message. It’s a sizzling commentary on post-modern society that cuts to the bone. Extraordinary.

DOWNLOAD THIS eBOOK FREE: The Status Civilization