Part Two of this review will be shorter than Part One because, frankly, there is less to say. I'd expected the second half of Life after Death: Some of the Best Evidence to cover the author's personal experiences with materialization mediumship, but instead the material mainly rehashes cases from the literature.
These vary in quality. Vandersande goes into some detail about the mediumship of Alec Harris, but unfortunately relies mainly on a book written by Harris's wife -- probably not the most objective source! He does quote some letters about Harris written by other people, but since he found these letters in the above-mentioned book, it is hard to know how to evaluate them.
On page 107 he notes that Harris wore black trousers and a black vest in his séances, supposedly to make it obvious that he was not impersonating any of the white materialized forms. Actually, however, wearing black would facilitate fraud; a fraudulent medium dressed in black would find it easy to drape himself in white cheesecloth. The black costume would disappear in the darkness and only the mysterious cheesecloth would be seen. This is precisely the method used by M. Lamar Keen, as described in The Psychic Mafia. This is not to say that Alec Harris was a fraud; he may have been genuine. But his choice of outfit does nothing to dispel doubts.
Vandersande next covers the case of Minnie Harrison, whose son Tom Harrison wrote a nice little book about her mediumship. I have discussed this book here. If full-form materialization mediumship is real, then the Harrison séances were probably a good example of it. Minnie Harrison sought no publicity and took no money, and continue to hold séances for friends and family members even while wasting away from terminal cancer. Admittedly, the few photographs taken of the materialized entities do not inspire confidence, but the no-nonsense tone of Tom Harrison's book is pretty convincing.
Finally there is a brief roundup of other mediums including Jack Webber, Carmine Mirabelli, and David Thompson. I'm not particularly familiar with either Webber or Mirabelli; the information Vandersande provides on Webber is rather scanty, and his coverage of Mirabelli is taken entirely from Victor Zammit's book.
Longtime readers of this blog know that I have put up many posts critical of the research done with David Thompson. There is no point in revisiting the controversy now, except to note that Vandersande states that it is impossible to escape from the flexible handcuffs with which Mr. Thompson is secured. In fact, two professional escape artists have told me it would be easy to slip out of -- and back into -- the handcuffs in the dark. One of them suggested a better way of securing Mr. Thompson, by applying additional handcuffs to his elbows and shoulders; I posted the information on this blog, but as far as I know, the people investigating Mr. Thompson did not choose to take this simple precaution.
Many questions have been raised about the information provided in Mr. Thompson's séances and about the various celebrities who have allegedly materialized in the séance room. For a full discussion, go to Spiritualist Chat Room (free registration required) and enter the forum called "Physical Mediumship"; then search for an older thread titled "FAQ Lettherebelight."
Although Vandersande has apparently sat in on quite a few séances, he has not seen any full materializations and has experienced partial materializations only in pitch darkness, where he had to rely on the sense of touch. As a result, he rather surprisingly says that the most evidential phenomena he has personally witnessed are trumpets flying around in the dark (p. 159). I mentioned in Part One of this review that this effect has been achieved by trickery many times; the basic method is outlined in The Psychic Mafia.
Overall, I'm rather disappointed in this book. I expected a more serious investigation grounded in scientific methodology; Vandersande, after all, has a Ph.D. in physics and has worked at the prestigious Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. His approach to the subject of mediumship -- especially materialization mediumship -- is less rigorous than one would expect from someone with a solid scientific background. He repeatedly dismisses the super-ESP hypothesis by saying he just doesn't find it believable, but he never really engages with the proponents of this hypothesis. The name Stephen E. Braude, for instance, is never mentioned. He does not seem knowledgeable about the methods used to fake phenomena in a dark or dimly lit séance room, and he relies on sources of doubtful objectivity -- Leslie Flint's autobiography, a memoir written by Alec Harris's wife, Victor Zammit's Web site, etc. He endorses the mediumship of David Thompson without, apparently, having read any of the criticisms of Thompson's work.
In general, Vandersande seems willing to take at least some mediums at their word, yet at the same time he frequently acknowledges that there is a great deal of fraud and self-delusion in this area. The result is a book that probably will not convince anyone who's not already convinced by prior experiences or prior reading.