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A History of Ghosts: The True Story of Seances, Mediums, Ghosts, and Ghostbustersby Peter Aykroyd
Synopses & Reviews
From that cheerful puff of smoke known as Casper to the hunkiest potter living or dead, Sam Wheat, there is probably no more iconic entity in supernatural history than the ghost. And these are just recent examples. From the earliest writings such as the Epic of Gilgamesh to todayandrsquo;s ghost-hunting reality TV shows, ghosts have chilled the air of nearly every era and every culture in human history. In this book, Lisa Morton uses her scholarly prowessandmdash;more powerful than any proton packandmdash;to wrangle together historyandrsquo;s most enduring ghosts into an entertaining and comprehensive look at what otherwise seems to always evade our eyes.and#160;and#160;
Tracing the ghostandrsquo;s constantly shifting contours, Morton asks the most direct questionandmdash;What exactly is a ghost?andmdash;and examines related entities such as poltergeists, wraiths, and revenants. She asks how a ghost is related to a soul, and she outlines all the different kinds of ghosts there are. To do so, she visits the spirits of the classical world, including the five-part Egyptian soul and the first haunted-house, conceived in the Roman playwright Plautusandrsquo;s comedy, Mostellaria. She confronts us with the frightening phantoms of the Middle Agesandmdash;who could incinerate priests and devour childrenandmdash;and reminds us of the nineteenth-century rise of Spiritualism, a religion essentially devoted to ghosts. She visits with the Indian bhuta and goes to the Hungry Ghost Festival in China, and of course she spends time in Mexico, where ghosts have a particularly strong grip on belief and culture. Along the way she gathers the ectoplasmic residues seeping from books and film reels, from the Gothic novel The Castle of Otranto to the 2007 blockbuster Paranormal Activity, from the stories of Ann Radcliffe to those of Stephen King.
Wide-ranging, informative, and slicked with over fifty unearthly images, Ghosts is an entertaining read of a cultural phenomenon that will delight anyone, whether they believe in ghosts or not.and#160;
The father of "Ghostbusters" star Dan Aykroyd shares the blockbuster movie's real-life inspiration: his own family's colorful history and experiences with the paranormal. color photo insert.
Peter Aykroyd spent his childhood watching his familys parlor séances through the crack of a basement door. Here, for the first time, Aykroyd tells the strange and delightful story that inspired his son, Dan, to make the mega-hit, Ghostbusters. Part history, part family legend, A History of Ghosts starts in 1848 in upstate New York, where the spiritualist craze first began. Aykroyd introduces the reader to notable mediums while telling the story of the development of spiritualism, interweaving a personal history marked by a fascination with ghosts and spirits with the larger narrative about the role the paranormal has played in our culture. Such legendary figures as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini appear and vanish.
Everyone loves a good ghost story. Successful TV shows such as Medium and Ghost Hunters are proof that our national obsession with ghosts is here to stay. Millions of Americans believe in the paranormal—and even skeptics have heard a bump in the night and suspected it might be something supernatural.
About the Author
PETER AYKROYD is a retired Government of Canada Senior Executive. He is the author of two previous books, The Anniversary Compulsion and A Sense of Place. He lives on a plot of land 20 miles north of Kingston, Ontario, that has been in the family for 180 years.
ANGELA NARTH is a full-time writer of both fiction and nonfiction with seven books currently in print. She lives on the banks of the mighty Red River a few minutes south of Winnipeg, Manitoba.
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