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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Operation Blue Light by Philip Chabot

Operation Blue Light: My Secret Life Among Psychic Spies by Philip Chabot with Laurie Anne Blanchard is a coming of age story that takes an unexpected turn and just keeps going. It crosses into adventure and changes a young man's life forever.

"This is a true story" the first sentence of the Preface promises. That promise seems to be confirmed by the reactions of others to the things that Philip discovers while trying to master a gift as powerful and consuming as the one he describes. He learns to leave his own body and sense the situations of others. When he describes the experience to a girlfriend, she predictably shuns him. He publicly predicts the appearance of a rainbow, and then is ostracized as a freak. To the amazement of his employer, a newspaper publisher, he uses his predictive skill to be in the right spot to get the best pictures of car wrecks, visiting politicians, and current events.

With a subtitle like "my secret life among the psychic spies", I expected something more akin to a James Bond type of story, or even something involving the well known attempts at psychic remote viewing. Despite the tempting quotations from MKULTRA documents, that isn't what this story is about. The cloak and dagger stuff doesn't happen until the story is much more than half told.

This book flows like a stream of consciousness. It is personal, interesting and fast paced. Some of the details in the story are challenging. The rationale for Mr. Chabot's time in a psychiatric ward is troubling. He discusses becoming an agent for the communist block at the height of the Cold War. The biggest challenge for me by far was an arranged marriage with the granddaughter of Chairman Mao. Nothing specific about her is ever mentioned, not even her name.

I recommend this book because of its personal and gripping story of a young man coming of age with a powerful and impressive gift. Its magnitude overwhelms him. The best part of this story is how Philip reconnects with his father. Philip makes the choice to lay down this gift and just walk away. It is believable and understandable. That is compelling reading.