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A Natural History of Ghosts Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Particular Books (November 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846143330
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846143335
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,602,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By DAVID BRYSON TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book can be recommended in many ways. The author obviously knows his way around the records of `supernatural' manifestations, he writes well, he is unfailingly rational without being any committed sceptic, and his coverage of the subject is more comprehensive than I have encountered before. If you want to know what the underlying theme of the book is, that turns out to be a more elusive issue than you might expect. Roger Clarke plunges directly in medias res - an account of his own experiences - without any foreword or introduction, so I tried the dust-jacket to see whether that might help. After some standard sales-puffery about `the first comprehensive, authoritative and readable history of the evolution of the ghost in the west' it asks `What explains the sightings of Ghosts?'

Well, what indeed? We have to get to the very last chapter before we find any real attempt at generalisation, and the generalisation concerns the kinds of people who have purportedly experienced `supernatural' events. We end the book without any proper summing-up or categorisation of the events themselves, as distinct from the sources of reports. In the second chapter Clarke offers what I hoped might form the basis for such a summary with eight `varieties', derived from one Peter Underwood. These are Elementals, Poltergeists, Traditional or Historical Ghosts, Mental Imprint Manifestations, Crisis or Death-survival Apparitions, Time Slips, Ghosts of the Living, Haunted Inanimate Objects. I am not going to quibble with that, but after clinging to these categories like Hope clinging to her anchor all the way through the following 16 chapters I was left with whatever I myself had managed to put together from passing observations of the author's.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Linda Cody on January 27, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Roger Clarke has been steeping himself in ghost lore since he was a child. This knowledge, combined with excellent scholarship, gives the reader accounts of ghosts reaching back into the 1600s, and depicts how they were witnessed, and how they were investigated at the time. I was fascinated reading the history of ghost exploration, and how it changed with the years. Clarke also mentions the attentions paid to mediums during the Victorian period, and offers reasons why they were so popular, and how they fell out of favor. Of especial interest is Clarke's account of the Hinton Ampner haunting, which was carefully documented in a diary by the woman living in the house, and was probably the inspiration for Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw."

A riveting account - fine bedside reading!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Damaskcat on November 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The author has been interested in ghosts since he was a child and his fascination with the subject really comes over in this book which I found totally engrossing reading. He looks at some of the famous hauntings such as Borley Rectory as well as less well known ones both ancient and modern.

Ghosts go in fashions as well as changing their dress according to the era in which they are seen. Shrouds were fashionable at one time but then in the nineteenth century everyone wore black, whether that was in the form of a nun's habit or glamorous women in satin and long gloves. Seeing ghosts and believing in them has always been dependent on class with the middle class being notable sceptics.

Ghosts also come in all shapes and sizes including Roman centurions and headless knights not to speak of wronged maid servants wringing their hands and uttering blood curdling cries. Then there are the moving objects which may or may not be attributable to poltergeist activity which is frequently associated with the presence of teenage girls in the property.

I was interested to learn that John Wesley incorporated a belief in ghosts into Methodism because of ghostly activity in his childhood home at Epworth in Lincolnshire. It is a belief which is no longer part and parcel of Methodism. Belief in ghosts and sightings of them ten d to increase and decrease according to whether or not there's a war on or an economic depression. There are always people who are ready willing and able to make money out of ghosts - whether by selling refreshments at the scenes of hauntings or by charging admission to haunted property and writing books about it.

Whether you believe in ghosts or not this is interesting reading from a social history point of view and the insights into human nature which the various stories provide. There are plenty of notes on each chapter, some black and white illustrations, a further reading list and an index.
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