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Ghosts: A Natural History: 500 Years of Searching for Proof Paperback – October 6, 2015
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“Roger Clarke tells this [the story that inspired Henry James' The Turn of the Screw] and many other gloriously weird stories with real verve, and also a kind of narrative authority that tends to constrain the skeptical voice within… [an] erudite and richly entertaining book.” ―New York Times Book Review
“Ghost-hunting gets a gentlemanly makeover in this meticulous history of hauntings. Clarke indulges his lifelong interest in the paranormal in this well-documented look at ghost stories and the people who have told them throughout history… He covers everything in loving detail… Clarke's discussions of geography also lend realism...a useful index, a chronology and a reference list ...will serve other paranormal researchers well. Excerpts from letters, illustrations of experiments and many complex family trees ground in reality what could be dismissed as fantasy.” ―Kirkus
“Beautifully written ... lithe, complicated and hugely rewarding.” ―Sunday Times
“A gripping history that traces the scientific and social aspects of ghostly sightings. . . . [A] voyage through the half-lit world of lost souls ... tales told with ghoulish relish” ―Telegraph
“Compelling ... Research into the paranormal necessarily involves a fair degree of debunking, and Clarke is careful to be skeptical. The narrative of ghost-hunting is simultaneously a history and exposure of fraud and popular delusion ... [yet] Clarke retains a boyish and ... well-informed enthusiasm for his subject.” ―Independent
“Splendid ... compelling ... Clarke manages to give goose-flesh and a giggle while informing the reader - an enviable feat.” ―Scotsman
“Compelling ... Research into the paranormal necessarily involves a fair degree of debunking, and Clarke is careful to be sceptical. The narrative of ghost-hunting is simultaneously a history and exposure of fraud and popular delusion ... [yet] Clarke retains a boyish and ... well-informed enthusiasm for his subject.” ―Independent
“A fascinating social history ... exceptionally well written and researched.” ―Starburst Magazine
“Outstanding ... Clarke's dissection of the shocks, sadnesses and sexiness of the seance tables from the late Victorian era is brilliantly done ... The book is deeply enjoyable, hugely informative and at times distinctly unsettling” ―Shade Point
“Lively and absorbing ... [Clarke] has proven himself an ideal guide to this troubled and disorderly realm.” ―Literary Review
About the Author
ROGER CLARKE is best known as a film-writer for the Independent newspaper and more recently Sight & Sound. Inspired by a childhood spent in two haunted houses, Roger Clarke has spent much of his life trying to see a ghost. He was the youngest person ever to join the Society for Psychical Research in the 1980s and was getting his ghost stories published by The Pan & Fontana series of horror books at just 15, when Roald Dahl asked his agent to take him on as a client. He is the author of Ghosts: True Stories.
Top customer reviews
Roger Clarke is a film writer and reviewer who has spent much of his life being fascinated by the supernatural. With that experience it is disappointing that so many of his stories here tend to be rambling and often repetitive, poorly organized and with an emphasis on sensation (which of course is par for the course when writing about ghosts and similar phenomena). I did enjoy the chapters that deal with nineteenth century mediums and their various deceptions, and the ones that covered Hinton Ampner, Epworth Priory, Borley Rectory, and other notorious haunted houses were interesting as well. I'm quite fond of M.R. James' ghost stories, and I appreciated Clarke's efforts to identify some of the actual houses and other sites which James used for his settings.
A book which covers some of the same ground as Clarke on nineteenth century "ghost hunting" and mediums is Deborah Blum's Ghost Hunters: William James And The Search For Scientific Proof Of Life After Death, albeit with a more skeptical tone.