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The Untold Story of Champ: A Social History of America's Loch Ness Monster

The definitive account of a Lake Champlain legend

By: Robert E Bartholomew(Author), Ronald S Kermani(Foreword By)

253 pages, b/w photos, b/w illustrations

State University of New York Press

Paperback | Dec 2012 | #200041 | ISBN-13: 9781438444840
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £19.25 $26/€22 approx

About this book

Scotland may have Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster, but we have Champ, the legendary serpent-like monster of Lake Champlain. The first recorded sighting of Champ, in 1609, has been attributed to the lake’s namesake, French explorer and cartographer Samuel de Champlain. This is pure myth, but there have been hundreds of sightings since then. Robert E. Bartholomew embarks on his own search, both of the lake firsthand and through period sources and archives many never before published. Although he finds the trail obscured by sloppy journalism, local leaders motivated by tourism income, and bickering monster hunters, he weighs the evidence to craft a rich, colorful history of Champ. From the nineteenth century, when Champ was a household name, to 1977, when he appeared in Sandra Mansi’s controversial photograph, Bartholomew covers it all. Real or imaginary, Champ and his story will fascinate believers and skeptics alike.

The Untold Story of Champ is a comprehensive history of a cultural fixture in the northeast. Robert Bartholomew explores the background and development of a media favorite and a scientific controversy. Both believers and skeptics can profit from the solid research and fluid storytelling in The Untold Story of Champ.”
- Stephen R. Whalen, Castleton State College

"This meticulously researched overview traces Champ's history as a cultural fixture in Lake Champlain stories, myths and legends. Believers and skeptics will be fascinated by the research and storytelling of the author."
- Vermont Historical Society webpage

" [...] a thorough exploration of the Champ tales told through the ages. Dr. Bartholomew assiduously weaves his way through the stories, myths, and legends that surround Champ."
- Mike Winslow, author of Lake Champlain: A Natural History

"I really loved the book, and got some valuable lecture material out of it for my Vermont history course. Just fascinating."
- Dr. Paul Searls, Department of History, Lyndon State College

"[A]scientific detective story of the highest quality [...] "
- Brad Steiger, bestselling author

" [...] a comprehensive history of a cultural fixture in the northeast. Robert Bartholomew explores the background and development of a media favorite and a scientific controversy. Both believers and skeptics can profit from the solid research and fluid storytelling [...] "
- Dr. Stephen R. Whalen, Department of History, Castleton State College

"Bartholomew makes the subject come alive by carefully documenting the bitter rivalries between competing Champ researchers and by filling in the background stories for numerous Champ witnesses and enthusiasts. He shows that the creature is not simply a media sideshow, but a concept that has touched real people's lives very deeply."
- Dr. Peter Dendle, Associate Professor of English, Penn State University at Mont Alto

"Robert Bartholomew guides you through 400 years of facts, fantasy and controversy surrounding Champ [...] Like any solid reporter, Bartholomew asks the tough questions. He draws you into the vortex of egos of the Champ researchers. He chides his media colleagues for sloppy reporting. He acknowledges the cheerleading by chambers of commerce along the lake that have hitched their wagons to the tale of Champ. It's all in here, and more.
- Ronald Kermani, former senior investigative journalist, Albany Times-Union

"Best lake monster book of the year. "
- Loren Coleman, Director, International Cryptozoology Museum

"Bartholomew thoroughly chronicles centuries of alleged sightings, including American Indian legends and numerous encounters printed in newspapers."
- Doug Gruse, journalist, Glens Falls, New York Post-Star

" [...] [H]ands down, THE BEST single book on ANY American lake monster, ever, period. I've been reading and collecting cryptozoology texts since age five (I'm now 57), and I've even illustrated a couple. I've tracked down every Champ-related book, many magazine articles, and books on Ogopogo and other lake monsters, I've devoured and revisited them all – this is without a doubt THE book to read and own.

A delightful, entertaining read that has done its homework, this is a top-notch study, filled with new-to-me vintage sighting reports, in-depth analysis of contemporary developments and cryptozoologist "feuds," and bracingly skeptical in tenor and tone without being cynical or dismissive. It's highly unlikely we'll see a better book on the phenomenon in our lifetimes, and if we do, it's in part because this book was published and expanded the foundation of future scholarship on Champ and lake monsters. Highest possible recommendation [...] "
- Stephen R. Bissette, multi-award winning artist and cartooning legend

"Bartholomew approaches his subject with the skepticism of an investigative reporter. He debunks and exposes hoaxes as much as he chronicles evidence of the elusive serpentine creature described as having a long, humped back and a horse-like head. [...] .His lively and readable account starts out by puncturing the myth that Samuel de Champlain spotted Champ in 1609. He describes the egos and obsessions of numerous serpent hunters across the decades. He also lays out an almost wilful complicity in pumping up reports of Champ sightings among boosterish local journalists, over-eager chambers of commerce leaders and well-meaning lake residents."
- Paul Grondahl, senior journalist, Albany Times-Union

"Explores 400 years of sightings and attempts to do something no book written on the creature has ever done: provide a history of the iconic 'monster' and examine the role humans have played."
- Derek Liebig, journalist, The Whitehall Times

"Bartholomew [...] pieces together the story of this legend [...] from the first documented sightings to the present-day evidence, economics, and cryptozoological accounts of the creature – with incredibly thorough research and a healthy lack of bias. [...] [T]hings pick up when Bartholomew starts to piece together [...] the strong competition between Champ researchers – all of whom are remarkable characters – and reexamines the evidence for and against Champ's existence. The tone is casual [...] but such an air befits this topic and will appeal heavily to readers without backgrounds in history or biology. Bartholomew digs deep and [...] ends up examining what our belief in lake monsters says about us."
- Publishers Weekly

"Highly recommended [...] "
- Joseph Nickell, PhD, author of Crime Science: Methods of Forensic Detection


List of Illustrations

1. From Out of the Blue: The Early Memoir of a Sea Monster
2. The Serpent, Or at Least Its Tale, Resurfaces
3. The Comeback Critter: The Fall and Rebirth of a Legend
4. Awash with Controversy: Shonky Journalism, a Controversial Photo and a Mother Dispute
5. Egos, Obsessions, and the quest for fame: The Monster Hunters
6. In the Eye of Beholder: The Search of Answers


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Robert E. Bartholomew is a native New Yorker who teaches history at Botany College in Auckland, New Zealand. His many books include The Martians Have Landed! A History of Media-Driven Panics and Hoaxes and Outbreak! The Encyclopedia of Extraordinary Social Behavior.

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