The Bigfoot Book: The Encyclopedia of Sasquatch, Yeti, and Cryptid Primates by Nick Redfern
I may be a paranormal investigator (or “ghost hunter”in layman’s terms, I suppose), but my main interest has always been in Bigfoot. And honestly, I’m not sure why. I’ve had dozens of experiences that I would consider possibly paranormal, but only one that might even venture into Sasquatch territory, and that only happened a few years ago, long after I had been a paranormal investigator. But that’s a story for another time. I do enjoy all things paranormal, but the big hairy primate captivates me more than anything else in this realm. I guess for me, it’s the most “real” thing out there. If it exists, it’s probably just a shy, giant species of undiscovered ape or primate. And if so, there’s really nothing very paranormal about that. A mystery to be sure, but one that dwells in the land of science more than mysticism. I have all manner of books on Bigfoot, most of them of the encyclopedic variety, so I had to get The Bigfoot Book: The Encyclopedia of Sasquatch, Yeti, and Cryptid Primates by renowned cryptozoologist Nick Redfern.
Now it’s always hard to review books like this, as there really is no narrative, no beginning, middle, or end. Being an encyclopedia, this book is really just an alphabetized selection of all things Bigfoot. Which for Nondescript nerds like me, is a must-have for my library (side note: the “Nondescript” is a hairy humanoid hoax from the early 19th Century, which is sadly not detailed in The Bigfoot Book). Anyways, on to the book.
As far as paranormal-specific encyclopedic books go, this one ranks right up there with some of my faves, such as Cryptozoology A to Z by Loren Coleman & Jerome Clark, The Field Guide to North American Monsters by W. Haden Blackman, Haunted Places by Dennis William Hauck, or The Encyclopedia of Monsters by Daniel Cohen. Nick Redfern is in the latest generation of cryptozoologists, which also includes Lyle Blackburn and Ken Gerhard, but Redfern is bit of a more well-rounded researcher, in that he often ventures beyond the typical Bigfoot/Nessie/el chupacabras “unknown animal” territory and will touch on more esoteric aspects of the paranormal like ghosts, UFOs, Men In Black, etc. The Bigfoot Book reflects this about Nick, with many entries covering the more supernatural side of this particular unknown animal.
Of course, the A-listers of the cryptid primate world are represented here: the Abominable Snowman or Yeti, Bigfoot/Sasquatch, the Boggy Creek creature, the Almasty, the Momo, the Lake Worth Monster, the Skunk Ape, etc. But there are some more “out there” entries in the book, like how bullets don’t seem to affect Bigfoot, or how some of these creatures may be able to become invisible or use telepathy, and their possible connection to UFOs and aliens. Most books of this type would shy away from this aspect of the phenomenon, and honestly, it’s not a viewpoint I subscribe to, but I feel like anyone who is a true student of the field needs to be at least aware of these oddities. Again, I don’t think Bigfoot are alien pets or what have you, but it is interesting from a correlational standpoint to see how many Bigfoot sightings are linked to UFO sightings.
Also included are some famous hoaxes (or probable hoaxes) like the Minnesota Iceman, Jacko, and De Loys’ Ape. Honestly, I haven’t heard much of De Loys’ Ape since I read about it as a kid, when the stories were a bit more fantastical. Reading about it now, as an adult, and from a more grounded viewpoint made me see it very differently, as a probably hoax or exaggeration at best. The Hairy Hands is another one of those creepy stories I read as a kid (I think in the aforementioned Encyclopedia of Monsters) which terrified me at the time, and was great to see in print again.
Besides the various and sundry cryptid primates that are covered, Redfern also has entries on various alleged Bigfoot film footage (e.g. the Patterson/Gimlin footage), Bigfoot movies (like my personal favorite “Willow Creek”), and some notable people in the field, like Dr. Melba Ketchum. The book is loaded with pictures, which I love since this sort of subject only benefits from visual aids. One of my biggest pet peeves about paranormal books is when they reference a photo or witness sketch, and then…don’t actually print the sketch in the book, forcing the reader to search for it elsewhere. One little thing I love about this book, a small thing but one that I really dig, is that each chapter is designated with a picture of a tent in the dark woods at night, with a Sasquatch lurking right outside. Subtle, but oh-so nifty. It adds a nice little spooky touch.
Overall, it’s a bit more well-rounded than most encyclopedias, by which I mean it covers a lot of things, but doesn’t focus on anything in particular. And that, for me at times, is a detriment. For example, why is Dr. Ketchum in here, but there are no entries on Dr. Grover Krantz, Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum, Loren Coleman, or other well-known researchers? Why is “Willow Creek” in here, but “Exists” doesn’t have an entry, despite being very good and very mainstream? I know that size constraints might force a publisher to edit a book down, but it’s hard for me to really give this book a perfect rating when it has entries on Bigfoot possibly braiding horse hair, but nothing about Dr. Krantz.
The Good: Nick Redfern never disappoints, and this book is no different. Lots of great entries, from the mainstream to the obscure and beyond, with lots of photos, you can’t go wrong with this encyclopedia. A great book for beginners who wants to see a nice cross-section of Bigfoot in history as well as in popular culture, but also a great addition to any armchair expert’s collection.
The Bad: Personally, as I mentioned, I don’t really subscribe to the more supernatural aspects of the Bigfoot phenomenon, so I could have done without some of the weirder entries in this book. Again, it’s good to have the whole picture on things, but some of the fringe Sasquatch stuff is just a little too bizarre for my tastes.
The Ugly: My biggest issue with this book is not what’s in here, but what’s been left out. Again, not sure why luminaries such as Dr. Krantz, Dr. Meldrum, Ivan Sanderson, Bindernagle, Green, and Loren Coleman were left out (heck, even some of Redfern’s contemporaries should have made it in here), and overall, I feel it hurts the book. Again, I understand not everything can make it in, but we’re only talking another 5-10 entries, from my count, give or take.
The Bottom Line: A great encyclopedia and a must-have for any Bigfoot enthusiast. Not a definitive guide by any means, but a great addition to your library, especially if you want some basic knowledge of the more paranormal aspects of the Bigfoot legend, but don’t want your bookshelves cluttered with “Bigfoot probed me on board his flying saucer”-type books.
Final Score: 90%