Cover image for Ghosts : a natural history : 500 years of searching for proof
Title:
Ghosts : a natural history : 500 years of searching for proof
Author:
Clarke, Roger., author.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Natural history of ghosts
Edition:
First U.S. Edition.
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y. : St. Martin's Press, 2014.

©2012.
Physical Description:
viii, 359 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Summary:
"Is there anybody out there?" No matter how rationally we order our lives, few of us are completely immune to the suggestion of the uncanny and the fear of the dark. What explains sightings of ghosts? Why do they fascinate us? What exactly do those who have been haunted see? What did they believe? And what proof is there? Taking us through the key hauntings that have obsessed the world, from the true events that inspired Henry James's classic The Turn of the Screw right up to the present day, Roger Clarke unfolds a story of class conflict, charlatans, and true believers. The cast list includes royalty and prime ministers, Samuel Johnson, John Wesley, Harry Houdini, and Adolf Hitler. The chapters cover everything from religious beliefs to modern developments in neuroscience, the medicine of ghosts, and the technology of ghosthunting. There are haunted WWI submarines, houses so blighted by phantoms they are demolished, a seventeenth century Ghost Hunter General, and the emergence of the Victorian flash mob, where hundreds would stand outside rumored sites all night waiting to catch sight of a dead face at a window."--Book jacket.
General Note:
Originally published under title: A natural history of ghosts : 500 years of hunting for proof. London : Particular Books, 2012.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781250053572
Format :
Book

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Audubon Library BF1461 .C53 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Lake Shore Library BF1461 .C53 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Lancaster Library BF1461 .C53 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Orchard Park Library BF1461 .C53 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Anna M. Reinstein Library BF1461 .C53 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Julia Boyer Reinstein Library BF1461 .C53 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Grand Island Library BF1461 .C53 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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On Order

Summary

Summary

A New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice

"Roger Clarke tells this [the story that inspired Henry James' The Turn of the Screw ] and many other gloriously weird stories with real verve, and also a kind of narrative authority that tends to constrain the skeptical voice within... [an] erudite and richly entertaining book." -- New York Times Book Review

"Is there anybody out there?" No matter how rationally we order our lives, few of us are completely immune to the suggestion of the uncanny and the fear of the dark. What explains sightings of ghosts? Why do they fascinate us? What exactly do those who have been haunted see? What did they believe? And what proof is there?

Taking us through the key hauntings that have obsessed the world, from the true events that inspired Henry James's classic The Turn of the Screw right up to the present day, Roger Clarke unfolds a story of class conflict, charlatans, and true believers. The cast list includes royalty and prime ministers, Samuel Johnson, John Wesley, Harry Houdini, and Adolf Hitler. The chapters cover everything from religious beliefs to modern developments in neuroscience, the medicine of ghosts, and the technology of ghosthunting. There are haunted WWI submarines, houses so blighted by phantoms they are demolished, a seventeenth-century Ghost Hunter General, and the emergence of the Victorian flash mob, where hundreds would stand outside rumored sites all night waiting to catch sight of a dead face at a window.

Written as grippingly as the best ghost fiction, A Natural History of Ghosts takes us on an unforgettable hunt through the most haunted places of the last five hundred years and our longing to believe.


Author Notes

ROGER CLARKE is best known as a film-writer for the Independent newspaper and more recently Sight & Sound . Inspired by a childhood spent in two haunted houses, Roger Clarke has spent much of his life trying to see a ghost. He was the youngest person ever to join the Society for Psychical Research in the 1980s and was getting his ghost stories published by The Pan & Fontana series of horror books at just 15, when Roald Dahl asked his agent to take him on as a client.


Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Although the book's subtitle might lead some readers to expect an investigative book along the lines of Joe Nickell's The Science of Ghosts (2012), this one is considerably less rigorous. The author begins by telling us this isn't a book about whether ghosts exist, but rather about what we see when we see a ghost, and the stories that we tell each other about them, which certainly makes it sound like an investigative piece. In fact, though, the book is slanted heavily toward the anecdotal: about 30 pages are devoted to the history of a certain haunted house, for example, but there is virtually no analysis of the various stories about the house and hardly any discussion of the scientific or psychological bases for the stories. Still, the text offers an interesting history of ghost stories and ghost hunters, but a more rigorous approach to the subject, with some discussion of the reasons why some people believe so strongly in the existence of things others say are purely imaginary, might have made it a more balanced book. As it stands, readers of skeptical literature might find it wanting, even if fans of ghost stories and TV's Ghost Hunters might enjoy it.--Pitt, David Copyright 2014 Booklist


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