33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2003
I disagree with the one and two-star ratings. The book is well written and a page turner. In fact, I have been reading it late at night and sometimes the hair on the back of my neck stands up: not because I believe everything I am reading, but because the book can stand alone as a fine collection of well-written, entertaining ghost stories. If you are willing to suspend the "need to disbelieve" while reading the book, prepare to be spooked. If you are looking for concrete, logical proof of ghosts, you will be disappointed. (Hence my four, and not five-star rating.)
In my opinion, both authors respect the paranormal experience and avoid sensationalism. The authors claim to base the book on documents, both declassified secret service and CIA files and through old letters and transcripts. They also write that the White House is the most haunted house in the US. The book includes an extensive bibliography on the paranormal and a listing of presidential haunts by state because birthplaces can also be haunted.
Abraham Lincoln is the most documented sighting, especially at the time of FDR and World War II, but a total of 22 (or so) US presidents have been sighted, as well as former first ladies, and a few of the "first children."
*Haunting* goes deep into the history of the paranormal experiences of the presidents themselves. For example, George Washington, who never lived in the White House, wrote a friend that he had a "visiting angel" while at Valley Forge telling him he mustn't give up, even under the horrendous conditions. Then the book explores the documented visitation of Washington's spirit to the Union officer Chamberlain during the Battle of Gettysburg, giving the Union officer strategic advice.
According to written accounts, Washington also tried to warn Gen. McClellan that if he (McClellan) didn't take action soon, he would be removed from his post. McClellan did nothing and, of course, Lincoln did indeed oust McClellan, replacing him with US Grant.
But the best part of the book is about the ghostly activity at the White House through the years, and the First Families who were open to the experience, albeit secretly. I have always been fascinated with the *possibility* of a haunted White House, but this is the first book I have found on the subject. I visited the White House in an era long before 9/11 when you could actually tour the place, and I felt then that it was filled with otherworldly energy.
Many of us need concrete documentation of the paranormal experience, and the authors fail to provide us with it in some, but not all, circumstances. A few of us need less concrete proof because what the authors write "rings true" within us somehow. Does that make us more gullible? Perhaps, but all of us believe what we want to believe. I am a "skeptical mystic" and I took what was mine to take from the book and left the rest. I advise other readers to do the same.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2010
I am absolutely stunned that this book averages 3 out of 5 starts on this date of December 9, 2010. I am shocked. Why? Read my review.
This book is obscenely intimidating. I was on page 200 and I had to stop and have a breather. If I were a robot I would be spazzing out and lagging because of an information overload, but it's soooo good!!!!! I had no idea that the presidents had a curse put upon them by a Shawnee holy man that had an assassination attempt on every president every 20 years. It's more than mere coincidence as the curse has come true every single time, or at least the events to play out the curse have happened every single time from 1840 - 2000!!!
My favorite story in this book was how James Garfield haunts his old house, though not in a bad way. The family were all doing their odds and ends one night and they heard a loud as heck crashing in the living room. They went to investigate and found everything from their cabinets on the floor but only arranged in a neat order. To top that off, Garfield's ghost is seen every now and then in his old house. The ghosts of Washington, Lincoln, Garfield, and so forth have been seen at pinnacle times in America's history. The absolutely socking fact that you will find just a few pages in that sent severe chills down my spine was that 39 of our 43 presidents, now 44, have had paranormal experiences related to the white house itself or mediums and astrologers they or their wives have brought in.
This book is packed packed packed with information. The thing I love about this book is that it coincides with my religion; spirituality. They talk about reincarnation, spirit guides, and all this whole mess, which makes me feel more welcomed to the book versus me reading a Christian or Muslim debate where "because God said this it was so" type of thing, though it doesn't press it's religious beliefs on you by any extent but rather just mentions them as a possibility, though not the only one!
The book doesn't force you to accept anything, but rather gives you information and says "hey, who knew!" type of thing, but does it in a revealing way that makes you really stop and think about a lot of things (for all those Illuminati believers, read this book! Perhaps it could help or not help in your argument; who knows!)
With an absolutely beautiful writing style, a fun read, and packed with information that repeats just enough so you understand it (I can now name presidents that preceded others in order! I have never been able to do that no matter how much I tried!), not to mention it's over 100 citations, I have to give this book AT LEAST a 5/5. Anyone who doesn't agree is just weird! :P
Were Ancient Gods From Other Planets?
Am I Mad Or Coherent?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 2, 2010
Joel Martin's foreword promises a "history" of the paranormal in connection with the U.S. Presidency and the White House. This book is nothing of the sort. The authors dredge up every ghost story, rumor or fantasy imaginable. Seriously detracting from the authors' credibility is the fact that they treat the "readings" of Edgar Cayce, tales of "alien abductions" and the highly questionable "predictions" of Jeane Dixon and Nostradamus as though they are unassailable fact.
Passages like this one - "This linking of spirits in the afterlife who had been joined together by an event during their lives is not an uncommon phenomenon" - further detract from the books readability and believability. The book is shot through with paragraphs like this in which the authors imply that they possess some special knowledge of the workings of the supposed "afterlife."
I'd have enjoyed this book a lot more had the authors simply related the many reported stories about ghosts and the U.S. Presidency without adding so much opinion in the guise of fact. A review of the bibliography quickly led me to the conclusion that nothing in this book is to be trusted, as most of the sources are earlier, similar non-scholarly collections of unsubstantiated ghost tales.
Worst of all, the authors include a chapter titled "The Channeling of the Presidents," in which the opinions of "...two respected and experienced channelers" are presented as serious research.
I found this book to be nearly unreadable. It cannot be taken seriously except by the most credulous. If, on the other hand, you believe that UFO abductions and Bigfoot are real, that astrology is a serious science, and that John Edwards can really communicate with the dead, this book's for you.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2006
I'm watching a very interesting show (on Jan 21, 2006) obviously based on this book. This is information we didn't have before - George Washington's vision of a presaging angel, Lincoln seeing his doppelganger, the 20-year Presidential curse made by a native American chief, Edgar Cayce predicting exactly what would happen to Wilson, the League of Nations and the world after the League failed to come into being, and more. Very engaging stuff! Thanks to the authors and much success with this book.
27 of 38 people found the following review helpful
The idea of assembling together evidence on the reported hauntings at the White House and other important historical sites seems like an idea long overdue. One hears stories about Lincoln's ghost and other such rumors, but there really is no authoritative book detailing all of the facts and legends. Unfortunately, I must say that there is still no such authoritative book. Martin and Birnes have certainly presented readers with a lot of information; apparently, they have never met a rumor or unsupported fact they didn't like. That becomes a problem. These pages contain more ghost references than I would ever imagine possible, thus making the need for supporting documentation crucial. Frankly, almost nothing the authors give us supports what they are saying. Going beyond the sore lack of provenance to these reports, I became increasingly frustrated at the huge leaps of faith and incredible assumptions the authors try to pass off as fact. More times than I can count, we are told that this ghost has been known to appear here or that ghost would return a century later. Only rarely do we get any details whatsoever to back up these incredible statements. Matters only get worse as one forges ahead. Along with the lack of any detail whatsoever, the authors begin to tell us that a certain manifestation must surely have been that of a certain individual. Somebody may or may not have seen something at a certain place, but the authors conclude that the person almost certainly witnessed the apparition of some famous person. When they delve into the subject of spiritualism and psychic abilities among the presidents, they provide private dialogue between parties that they cannot possibly have documented. The most absurd statement in the book involves the authors' refusal to let the supposed death curse on zero-year presidents die; perhaps, they opine, President Reagan began "dying" at the hands of Alzheimer's Disease before he finished his second term.
There are just tons of examples of unsupported accounts and conclusions in this book, so many that I cannot put much faith in anything reported on these pages. I know this is not an academic text and I don't expect footnotes, but I do expect to actually learn the most basic of details of the reports cited. There is a significant bibliography in the back of the book, but even there the authors say that there was not enough room to list all of the sources they used. The trouble does not end here, as the authors make authoritative statements about such controversial events as the Kennedy assassination; these guys have an answer for every mystery in American history. Undoubtedly, there is some factual, important information in this book, but it's hardly worth finding amid the morass of unreliable reporting. While this book was interesting, I began to regard it as rather foolish halfway through it. The authors have some of these spirits making more public appearances in death than they ever did in life. My final complaint concerns the political agenda that clearly finds its way into the final hundred pages; the authors resort to snide comments and accusations that made clear their stand on modern-day politics. I don't care what the authors' political views are, but I don't think they have any place in a book supposedly devoted to presidential hauntings.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 18, 2007
This book seems to be divided into two parts that are intermixed.
If you are into the paranormal and occult and desire to be told what the occult is all about and its various manifestations (as if you were a complete novice) before the text starts relating those topics into how they relate to our Presidents, then this is the book for you.
If you like history, and are not bothered by the fact that though there are many many claims of paranormal "facts" mentioned in this book, the authors do not bother to substantiate their claims or "facts" by either bibliographical references, footnotes, indexes, or specific notes and sources, then this is the book for you.
If you bought this book just to read it, and after doing so, plan on giving it to another used book store when done, then this is definately the book for you.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2012
History was a required subject in school, flatly written and to me, boring. Who were these "Founding Fathers"? Who or what influenced them so greatly that they performed as they did without the influence of "media" as we know it today? And, the women in their lives: What kind of influence did they have on these men, if any at all? This book made history come alive by humanizing what were once only "names in a textbook". I believe I learned more in these pages than in all my school years about historical events, the people who lived them, shaped them and the guidance they received from the "other side". This is a fascinating book, a very easy read and I highly recommend it to all.
9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2003
I agree with the review posted by darkgenius below. The book simply does not provide enough documentation for its claims. Many of the stories seem to rest on the slenderest foundations. For instance, the authors recount a tale of George Washington encountering a ghost - or angel - at Valley Forge in 1778. This lengthy, detailed narrative, written in a pseudo-Biblical style, is attributed to Washington himself. However, we then learn that Washington didn't write it, after all - it was written up by a "young aide, Anthony Sherman, who many years later, in 1859, retold the account" to a reporter. So what we have is a second-hand story circulated 81 years after the alleged event (and bearing obvious references to the Civil War - astoundingly prophetic in 1778, but not so remarkable in 1859, when the war was imminent). Things get worse as the book continues. Nostradamus is dragged into the discussion. We hear of a ghost story reported by "an unnamed source" in "a national tabloid." The Bible Code makes an appearance. All credibility is lost. In the Foreword, Joel Martin says, "We wanted this book to be more than merely a collection of anecdotes." They failed.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2005
This book was written very well and I beg to differ with the people who didn't like it. It was very informative when tying in the ghost stories which I like. Although the first part was a little boring and didn't hold my interest real well. It is a book that I think people should read if they like history and ghost stories combined.
on September 29, 2013
"The Haunting of the Presidents" is a collection of tall tales, myths and urban legends about paranormal activities in some way associated to U.S. presidents. There are no footnotes, and the bibliography at the end of the book is incomplete by the authors' own admission. Thus, there is no way a sceptical reader can check the sources for the alleged paranormal encounters.
Both Joel Martin and William Birnes are "true believers" and politically naïve. They want us to believe that Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation due to prodding from the spirit world, or that FDR discussed confidential matters concerning American relations with Stalin with a medium who wasn't even part of his inner circle. The old tale about George Washington meeting a female angel with prophetic abilities at Valley Forge is also dusted off. Here, the authors admit that the "prophecy" (which mentions the Civil War) wasn't published until *after* - surprise - the Civil War.
The only thing obviously true in "The Haunting of the Presidents" is that the Reagans had a court astrologer. The book is rounded up by the two authors asking New Age mediums to "channel" messages from deceased presidents. Despite pointed questions to Truman's spirit about Roswell, to Kennedy's spirit about the assassination and Marilyn Monroe, and to Roosevelt's ditto about Pearl Harbor, we aren't wiser than when we began!
"The Haunting of the Presidents" is nevertheless interesting, but only as a kind of cultural studies. This is what people *want* to believe about the men who held the highest position in the United States, and their first ladies. If some presidents *really* believed in the paranormal, or had purportedly paranormal encounters, is a question never really answered...