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The Encyclopedia of Hell Paperback – November 30, 1999


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"Burning Bush 2.0: How Pop Culture Replaced the Prophet"
Explore a whimsical and sincere examination of the ways God communicates with us—sometimes subtly and secretly—through our media and entertainment streams. Learn more
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (November 30, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312244428
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312244422
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,138,597 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Miriam Van Scott outpaces Dante...a Thomas Guide to the Dark Side." --Detour magazine

"With entries ranging from Dante's Inferno to the 1994 noir film Dark Angel: The Ascent, Van Scot's hellacious handbook entertains as it guides readers through a cultural history of Hell." --Publishers Weekly

"Fascinating reading...Van Scott's fine research and treatment of the material enables the reader to grasp specific points with great depth. All libraries will do well to add such a contemporary title." --Library Journal

About the Author

Miriam Van Scott lives with her family in Manassas, Virginia. She is the author of Encyclopedia of Heaven (St. Martin's Press, 1999).

Customer Reviews

This book was sorely disappointing.
DesertKnight
Overall, this book is quite interesting and serves as a good quick reference guide.
Matthew S. Schweitzer
It is written at the popular level and is a very easy read.
Asmar Falco

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

161 of 166 people found the following review helpful By DesertKnight on March 25, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was sorely disappointing. I expected a work that contained serious entries on various hell/afterlife-related topics-something that could be used as a reference. Instead, this book is a hodgepodge of entries on everything from Babylonian mythology to popular movies like Flatliners. Just to give you an idea of what's actually in this book, there are entries on "Gift Novelties," "Country Music," "Movie Merchandising," "Jokes," and Stephen King's "Rose Madder." Notable missing entries include Virgil (Dante's guide through the Inferno), Ugolino (one of the most lasting images from the Inferno, and the basis of many modern poems, including one by Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney), Pandaemonium (the capital city of Hell from Milton's Paradise Lost), Neutral Angels (those who didn't take sides in Lucifer's war on God, and who were damned for not siding with God), Beezelbub (a Biblical demon), Baal (identified with Beezelbub in the Bible), and Sin. I stopped looking at that point, or I'd have a much longer list. The entries that are in this book leave a lot to be desired. "Satan" gets a column and a half, while "Saturday Night Live" gets more than two. One of the longest entries is for Clive Barker, who gets two and a half pages, and who is one of the people listed in her Acknowledgements. The entries are very simplistic and often either wrong or so lacking in substance as to be next to useless.

Unless your primary interest is pop-culture versions of Hell in the late 20th century, and you don't mind getting less useful information than you could find on Google in about thirty seconds, pass on this book.
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Over all, this is a decent book. However, be aware that there are some inaccuracies, possibly based on the author's personal biases. For example, Olodumare is not an underworld deity in the Yoruba pantheon, and neither is Obatala an underworld judge. Also, Wotan (Germanic) and Erlik (Siberian) are not deities who fell "out of grace" with a higher ('good') divinity. There are many more such examples. Either the author has deliberately skewed the information, or her sources are inaccurate. If you are buying this book in order to do serious research, be prepared to cross reference with other sources--preferably the originals.
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30 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
Perhaps, my expectations of this book were too high. I was looking for an amusing, yet somewhat historically thorough book. It did indeed have many underworld entities I had never heard of before. However, there were also ridiculous entries that in my opinion, were wasting space: comic books, video games, David Letterman (for saying, "this show's going to hell"). What is that? The only entry I immediately recall not finding is "Diablo"... they at least could have put it under video games... I mean, they had "Doom".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By The Greatest on March 15, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have searched for a book that would give me some insight into ancient demons and a bit of their background for quite some time. This is the first book that I was happy with and allowed me to complete a ton of research on the subject in a very short amount of time.

The book is not without its faults, mainly entries on movies about Hell and other useless stuff of a similar variety. However I gave it 5 stars because for my purposes it was perfect. It gave me insight into the views on Hell from many different cultural perspectives. It gave me their beliefs and their specific demons and entities. It was interesting to see the parallels that existed between cultures that were so far apart they wouldn't even know the other existed.

If you are looking for a narrative with dialog then you shouldn't be buying a book with "Encyclopedia" in the title. If you're looking for something like I've described above then this should be perfect for you like it was for me.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Matthew S. Schweitzer on July 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
Miriam Van Scott's Encyclopedia of Hell is chock full of interesting definitions, descriptions, and anecdotes concerning many different aspects of devils, demons, occultists, and various underworld myths from across a wide range of religions and cultures. It contains brief descriptions of many lesser-known or obscure demonic and diabloic charaters and often long entries for other rather well-known people and places. Overall, this book is quite interesting and serves as a good quick reference guide. However, any encyclopedia of Hell is going to be a major affair that would seriously require seveal volumes. There has yet to be a truly all-inclusive effort to describe the myths and legends of the Underworld and everything related to the afterlife and the damnation of the soul. This books does its best to cover everything but falls short of being the last word on Hell.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a perfect example of pop culture bubblegum pap. It deals with such topics as bubblegum cards and t-shirts but either doesn't mention or very, very superficially such things as: Paradise Lost, Dante's Inferno, the Hieararchy of Hell, The Catholic Church's View of, Demons, Demonology, and so on. This book is truly useless and a waste of time. I can understand if the book was written for 1-6 year olds, it might be entertaining and of some interest but for anyone with any intelligence and/or education it is just horribly bad. So, save yourself some time and money and avoid this purchase. Spend the money to buy anything but this book. Avoid at all costs, can produce mindnumbing stupidity in readers.
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More About the Author

Miriam Van Scott has done editorial work / screenwriting for such prestigious media as The History Channel, ABC World News, The Learning Channel, Good Housekeeping Magazine, Gannett, ABC's 20/20, Paramount Entertainment Group, Media General Cable, National Public Radio and others. Her books Encyclopedia of Hell and Encyclopedia of Heaven have been translated into numerous languages and are used in universities throughout the world.

Van Scott's new series --- SHAKESPEARE GOES POP --- offers a unique blending of popular topics and Elizabethan style. Each volume reimagines familiar quotes in Bard-style English and offers readers fun facts, trivia challenges and quote comparisons between Shakespeare and contemporary celebrities. Volume 1 - Hollywood Edition - is available now on Amazon, and Volume 2 - Sports Edition - is coming soon.


Her first children's book Candy Canes in Bethlehem --- published in 2012 --- features illustrations and information on Christmas traditions from cultures around the globe. The project was featured as a women in business "Success Story" on CNBC's The Suze Orman Show. The book's related Facebook page offers stories, craft ideas, recipes, activities and other info on Christmas customs from all corners of the world.

Song of Old: An Advent Calendar for the Spirit, is the author's adaptation of traditional Advent calendars, with short reflective passages serving as the 24 daily 'treats' that countdown the days to Christmas. Each is written from the viewpoint of someone who lived during the time of Christ's birth, including such familiar characters as the Magi, the young apostle Peter, Simeon, the shepherds, King Herod, Nicodemus and the infant John the Baptist among others. The narratives cover the sweeping range of emotions associated with the holiday and together comprise a meaningful and momentous journey to Christmas morning.

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The Encyclopedia of Hell
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