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Book Excerpt: 'Surviving Death' (US 2017)
Credit: Tatiana Daubek

In "Surviving Death," Leslie Kean reveals stunning and wide-ranging evidence suggesting that consciousness survives death. Kean explores the most compelling case studies of young children reporting verifiable details from past lives, contemporary mediums who seem to defy the boundaries of the brain and of the physical world, apparitions providing information about their lives on earth, and people who die and then come back to report journeys into another dimension. Below is an excerpt of "Surviving Death: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for an Afterlife" (Crown Archetype, 2017). 

While exploring the evidence for an afterlife, I witnessed some unbelievable things that are not supposed to be possible in our material world. Yet they were unavoidably and undeniably real. Despite my initial doubt, I came to realize that there are still aspects of Nature that are neither understood nor accepted, even though their reality has profound implications for understanding the true breadth of the human psyche and its possible continuity after death.

I was directly exposed to people capable of perception that seemed to transcend the limitations of the  physical brain; unexplainable forces, acting with apparent intelligence, able to move objects; and the delivery of obscure and accurate details by possible discarnate beings communicating through people unknown to them. I also studied numerous published papers, including those by medical doctors, describing clinically dead patients with no brain function who reported journeys to a sublime afterlife dimension.

My explorations of these and other remarkable phenomena gave rise to many questions. How can it be that an apparition returns a wave from a human observer? Or that people watch their own resuscitation from the ceiling in the operating room, aware that they have left their bodies? How about a human hand materialized by a declared disembodied survivor of death, on multiple occasions? And how could a two-year-old boy seem to remember numerous specific facts about a previous life, unknown to anyone in the family, that are later verified as accurate?

As documented within the scientific literature for over a hundred years, these and other manifestations have one aspect in common: they suggest that consciousness—or some aspect of ourself—may sur- vive physical death. In these pages I will take you on a journey into this world.

An investigation of such evidence has rarely been systematically consolidated and subjected to in-depth, rigorous scrutiny by a journalist. This task has been left primarily to a few courageous scientists, philosophers, medical doctors, psychiatrists, and other investigators usually writing about one specific area of research. My intention is to present some of the most interesting evidence from diverse sources and show how it interconnects, making it accessible for the intelligent and curious reader encountering the material for the first time. Strict journalistic protocols can be applied to any topic for which there is data, no matter how unusual or even indeterminate.

Yet, this book is far from a catalog of evidence for the survival of bodily death. It is also a very personal story for me. My narrative would have remained one-dimensional and abstract without the ex- periences and "personal experiments" that are part of it. In this sense, I have taken a step inside this investigation in a new way—through experience and first-hand examination, and not just from the perspective of a detached observer who studies data and peers into a strange world from the outside. It may be professionally risky to expose these very personal events, but I feel it is my obligation to do so. It would be dishonest to omit elements that had an impact on my thinking and my effort to come to terms with many remarkable phenomena, elements that drew me even more deeply into the material. However, I was also careful to step back from them afterward, remaining as analytical and discriminating as I was with everything else. The tricky aspect lies in the interpretation of the extraordinary events, not in their reporting.

Excerpted from SURVIVING DEATH: A JOURNALIST INVESTIGATES EVIDENCE FOR AN AFTERLIFE Copyright © 2017 by Leslie Kean. Published by Crown Archetype, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.