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In the history of the numinous there are few things more common than the belief in ghosts. From the earliest writings such as the Epic of Gilgamesh to today's ghost-hunting reality TV shows, ghosts have chilled the air of nearly every era and every culture in human history. In this book, now available in B-format paperback, Lisa Morton wrangles together history's most enduring ghosts into an entertaining and comprehensive look at what otherwise seems to always evade our eyes.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
As someone who's been on a ghost hunt in a "haunted house" I've always maintained an open mind when it comes to other world visitors.
Lisa Morton's book keeps an equally open mind and covers a wealth of information to satisfy even the most ardent of Ghostbusters.
I confess that I found the first couple of chapters hard going - covering very early sightings - there was so much information there that it was slightly overwhelming!
For me the book was most interesting when it covered spooks in popular culture. There was plenty of familiarity in the reference to some of those classic 70's movies (The Amityville Horror and The Shining in particular) and hearing about the real stories behind the gloss was fascinating.
It was also eye opening to realise how many ghoulish references have found their way into our language - for example did you know that balls of lint/dust under furniture are called ghost turds?
The book seamlessly moves from the movie Ghostbusters to real life spook hunters and the methods and equipment used to try and prove the existence of ghosts. It's quite incredible to think of how many industries have grown around and thrived upon the subject.
It's fair to say that I remain a sceptic but the strength of Lisa Morton's book is that, whichever side of the fence you sit on, there are plenty of unbiased facts to be absorbed in - just make sure you read it with the lights on!
'Lisa Morton's brisk, handsomely illustrated Ghosts: A Haunted History canters through millennia of supposed uncanny interruptions with a kind of puckish scepticism ... Morton excels at presenting us with instances of the persistence of belief, across all times and cultures ... there are moments all the same when the hint of something truly uncanny is permitted to intrude.' - TLS; 'Halloween isn't the only time for ghosts and ghost stories ... Lisa Morton offers a compact account of the human propensity to believe in otherworldly apparitions. She discusses, among other matters, haunted houses, spiritualism, ghost-hunting, "Day of the Dead" and spectral terrors in literature, film and popular culture. To give body and shape to these phantoms and airy nothings, Morton packs her book with images - of paintings, creepy spirit photographs, movie stills and even a full-page illustration of Casper the Friendly Ghost.' - Michael Dirda, Washington Post; 'This year's Halloween has passed, but for many the interest in things that go bump in the night is alive and well. From classic ghost stories told around a campfire to the slew of recent ghost hunting TV shows, ghosts have been the most prevalent otherworldly beings around for years. Luckily for those of us who love a good ghost story, Lisa Morton has written the ultimate guide on the shadowy superstars of the supernatural realm.' - PopMatters; 'Ghosts is intelligent and well structured. It's also well informed, which is apparent in the sheer volume of spectral examples that Morton has collected, yet her writing style remains accessible ... the perfect companion for those who err towards skepticism over embellishment, yet still find themselves riddled in goose-pimples when they hear a creak in the floorboards in the dead of night.' - Rue Morgue magazine