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The Premonitions Bureau

A True Story

Sam Knight



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Faber & Faber
01 May 2022

ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- This is the true story of John Barker, a British psychiatrist that began to investigate cases of people who reportedly had premonitions of disasters. There are some quite moving and eccentric stories beginning with the Aberfan disaster in Wales. As to the veracity of the project as a whole, which may appear to be dubious to say the least, is up to the reader to decide. Knight details these stories including Barker’s own personal battles with a compassionate and intriguing manner.  Greg

Premonitions are impossible. But they come true all the time.

Most are innocent. You think of a forgotten friend. Out of the blue, they call.

But what if you knew that something terrible was going to happen? A sudden flash, the words CHARING CROSS. Four days later, a packed express train comes off the rails outside the station.

What if you could share your vision, and stop that train? Could these forebodings help the world to prevent disasters?

In 1966, John Barker, a dynamic psychiatrist working in an outdated British mental hospital, established the Premonitions Bureau to investigate these questions. He would find a network of hundreds of correspondents, from bank clerks to ballet teachers. Among them were two unnervingly gifted percipients . Together, the pair predicted plane crashes, assassinations and international incidents, with uncanny accuracy. And then, they informed Barker of their most disturbing premonition: that he was about to die.

The Premonitions Bureau is an enthralling true story, of madness and wonder, science and the supernatural - a journey to the most powerful and unsettling reaches of the human mind.

'Enthralling: a work of inspired, tireless and deeply compassionate curiosity' - Helen Garner
 The Premonitions Bureau

Imprint:   Faber & Faber
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Edition:   Export - Airside ed
Dimensions:   Height: 216mm,  Width: 135mm,  Spine: 18mm
Weight:   267g
ISBN:   9780571374830
ISBN 10:   0571374832
Pages:   224
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  ELT Advanced ,  Primary
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Sam Knight is a British journalist who has covered subjects such the plans for the death of the Queen, sandwiches and late capitalism, art fraud; plus profiles of Ronnie O'Sullivan, Jeremy Corbyn, and Theresa May. His work for the Long Read section of the Guardian and for The New Yorker has become influential and wildly shared. 'London Bridge is Down', published in 2017, was viewed 4 million times and remains the most popular Guardian long read ever published. Knight, a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2018, has won two Foreign Press Association awards and was shortlisted for the 2018 Orwell Prize for political writing.

Reviews for The Premonitions Bureau: A True Story

'A riveting exploration of a 60s psychiatrist's nationwide search for people who can see into the future to predict catastrophes.' - i News 'Filled with jewels of journalistic detail . . . a real achievement.' - Prospect 'For the ultimate poolside experience you need to pocket yourself the punchiest of the season's page-turners. The Premonitions Bureau by Sam Knight recounts the true story of a 1960s maverick psychiatrist who researches whether or not somepeople can predict the future.' - GQ 'An absorbing and thought-provoking book.' - Sydney Morning Herald 'Showcases the gifts that make [Knight] so endlessly readable. A richly researched feat of compression . . . rivet[ing].' - Observer BOOK OF THE DAY 'Strange and gripping.' - Guardian 'An elegant and illuminating work of cultural history.' - TLS 'Knight shows a journalistic flair for the little details that buff up a story and make it shine.' - Times 'Knight combines a flair for American narrative non-fiction in the tradition of David Grann, Janet Malcolm and Joan Didion, with an absurdist lens on British life . . . his gin-clear prose . . . seems to have the freedom of fiction.' - Sunday Times 'An entertaining study of the mind and the human quest for control . . . powerful.' - Financial Times 'It is a story both elegant and eccentric, cleanly capturing that brief moment in the 1960s when extrasensory perception verged on mainstream acceptance. It is also quietly terrifying, a reminder that even those who can see the future have no hope of getting out of its way.' - New York Times 'Terrific . . . a compelling, beautifully written book.' - New Scientist 'Knight tells this fascinating story with his typically enjoyable combination of fastidious research and an ear for the absurd.' - Esquire The Best Books of 2022 'Tells the fascinating story of British psychiatrist John Barker who in 1966 set up a network of hundreds of correspondents to investigate those strange, tingling sensations of foreboding that we all get from time to time.' - Refinery 29's The Books We're Picking Up This May

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