If any one person can claim to be an authority on near-death experiences (NDEs) without having had one, that person must surely be Kenneth Ring. After Raymond Moody sowed the seeds of modern near-death research by coining the term "NDE" in his 1975 Life after Life, it was Ken who watered and nurtured them till they grew into a self-sustaining phenomenon. It was Ken who was the first president of that band of scattered researchers who formed the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS), 20 years ago. It was Ken's office at the University of Connecticut that housed the organization's volunteers, phones, and growing archives for its precarious first decade. And it was Ken who founded the only scholarly journal for near-death studies and organized symposia on NDEs at annual meetings of mainstream academic societies.
If anyone has interviewed more NDErs than Ken—and I don't know that anyone has—then surely no one has done it with as much depth, open-mindedness, and insight as he. For many years, Ken's home was known to experiencers across the country as "The Near-Death Hotel," where itinerant NDErs trying to rediscover their place in this world could, and did, "drop by" and end up staying, however long it took. And each one to whom Ken opened his home in return opened his or her heart and added to Ken's growing comprehension of the true essence of the NDE. No other researcher has been able to meld the large scale controlled study with the passionate friendships, the philosophical theories with the intuitive understandings, the command of the scholarly literature with the