Most helpful positive review
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on December 5, 2008
Americans tend to forget that a long tradition of ghosts and ghoulishness preceded Dickens' "Christmas Carol"; John Grossman brings it back to the forefront in this collection of postcards, advertisements, and illustrations from the 19th and early 20th centuries.
If anthropomorphized foodstuffs and seemingly predatory angels give pause, those are merely the icing on Grossman's fiendish pudding of divine children, saints, witches, goblins, and devils, all bringing holiday cheer or retribution, depending on the behavior of the recipients. The author's text is a delight, balancing historical context with humorous commentary.
This book is also valuable for the perspective it offers regarding the evolution of the Christmas holiday and its principal figures. The unfailingly jolly and almost completely secular Santa Claus of today would be a stranger among the early 19th century's incarnations of St. Nicholas, Father Christmas, and demonic Krampus.
This book would make a wonderful gift, particularly for those suffering from an overload of Christmas sugarplums.