I first read this unusual biography as a teenager and it absolutely captivated me. After a librarians' tour earlier this year of the Association for Research and Enlightenment, a Virginia Beach organization dedicated to Cayce and his work, I decided to revisit Sugrue’s book. Oh, the memories that surfaced, including the time that I tried to study for a chemistry test by sleeping with a textbook under my pillow. (I have to admit that this strategy did not work as well for me as it did for Cayce!)
Edgar Cayce, who died in 1945 at sixty-seven years old, was a quiet insurance salesman, photographer and Sunday school teacher from Kentucky. Often credited with being the “father of holistic medicine” and the founder of the New Age movement, he is probably best-known for his ability to put himself into a deep trance from which he answered questions about the health of specific individuals, offered cures, and sometimes gave predictions about the future. A humble, low-key sort of person, Cayce is considered one of the most documented psychics of all time, with the transcripts of over 14,000 sessions taken by his longtime stenographer, Gladys Davis, and housed at the A.R.E. for public access.
Though much has been written about Edgar Cayce, including Jess Stearn's popular exploration, The Sleeping Prophet, the fact that Thomas Sugrue actually knew Cayce makes this fascinating biography especially valuable. Published in 1942, There Is a River is straightforward, thought-provoking and reads like a novel. For those of us who are still skeptics after reading Sugrue's book, there is always the well-researched Borderlands of Science: Where Sense Meets Nonsense by Michael Shermer. Have at it. As for me, I'm just like Fox Mulder of The X-Files. I want to believe.