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Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween Hardcover – October 15, 2012

4.7 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Trick or Treat covers the history of Halloween from its ancient Celtic roots to its stunning growth in global popularity in the 21st century. Morton is an accomplished horror short story writer, and her ability to draw readers in quickly and keep them turning the pages shines through in her nonfiction as well. Lavishly illustrated, this solidly researched and concise work is fun to read and a great choice for readers who want to know why we seek out the scary each October.” 
(Library Journal)

 “If you want to know anything at all about the subject, you ought to find it in Trick or Treat. . . . Morton’s interesting account of Hallowe’en is at its best when it comes up to date and there are many entertaining illustrations.”
(Susan Hill The Times)

 “Full of historical nuggets and strange folklore, Lisa Morton's Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween is the perfect bible for all devoted disciples of the holiday.”
(Michael Dougherty, Writer & Director, Trick 'r Treat)

 “With Trick or Treat Lisa Morton gives us a charming, creepy, insightful and thoroughly fascinating history of Halloween. It’s a delicious blend of cultural history and pop-culture savvy that is a true delight to read!”
(Jonathan Maberry, author of Flesh and Bone and Assassin’s Code)

 “This is an excellent survey of the Halloween scene, informative and accessible, far more treat than trick.”
(Kim Newman, author of Nightmare Movies and Anno Dracula)

 “In a modern world, increasingly filled with pop culture fads and gimmicks, Lisa Morton reveals much of the underbelly history and unknown facts regarding the biggest pop culture event in history—Halloween. Her sheer delight and well-researched enthusiasm in tackling many of the unrecognized aspects of this monstrous topic makes one wonder what we don't know about everything else that should be as commonplace to our psyche as a bag of candy.”
(Del Howison, editor of Dark Delicacies and Book of Lists: Horror)

“[Morton] playfully sets the record straight on the origins of Halloween. . . . This book is an excellent example of the scholarship on holidays as a means of accessing many facets of history. Highly recommended.”
(Choice)

“From an authority on Hallowe’en lore comes all you need to know about this ‘misunderstood’ festival. . . . Well written and illustrated, informative and entertaining.”
(Fortean Times)

About the Author

Lisa Morton is an award-winning author and one of the world’s leading authorities on Halloween. Her work includes The Halloween Encyclopedia and A Hallowe’en Anthology: Literary and Historical Writings Over the Centuries. She lives in Los Angeles.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 229 pages
  • Publisher: Reaktion Books; First Edition edition (October 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780230478
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780230474
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #592,663 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By kurtis primm on October 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the very best most imformative Halloween history book that I have ever read. If you want to know the true roots of this spactacular holiday, not the heresay, or muddled assumptions, but the truth with facts, then look no further than this book. I have a massive Halloween book collection and I have never read a book yet with so much information about the true roots of Halloween. The book was a great read and I could not put it down. I am so very glad that I bought this book, and if you are a lover of Halloween, or history, then pick up this book. You will be very glad that you did.
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Format: Hardcover
Exhaustively researched, beautifully written and illustrated, and a delight to read from beginning to end, Lisa Morton's 'Trick Or Treat' is, flat-out, the single best volume I've ever come across on the twisted, surprising and captivating history of Halloween, as well as related holidays such as Dia de Los Muertos or All Saint's Day. Endlessly fascinating and informative -- I didn't even know a pumpkin was a fruit until I read this addictive little tome! -- I did not want this book to come to an end. Morton's knowledge of and passion for her subject is infectious and calls up all the goose-bump raising and spine-tingling sights, sounds and smells of the autumn season and its increasingly popular celebration of all that is mirthfully macabre and whimsically weird. Both quaintly nostalgic and edgily up-to-date, this cornucopia of communal creepiness deserves a place on the bookshelves of anyone who, like me, has a soft-spot in his wicked little heart for this sometimes misunderstood black sheep of holidays which is nowadays coming spookily close to rivaling Christmas in national popularity. So if you just can't wait for next All Hallows Eve to roll around, just grab yourselves a cuddly black cat, carve yourselves a Jack O' Lantern, fire up a nice midnight cauldron of your favorite witch's brew, then start reading! But don't forget to ignite a toasty bonfire first as it's the prefect reading light for Lisa Morton's beguiling tour of the wild and wonderfully haunted history of Halloween!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lisa Morton brings a wonderful blend of sober scholarship and elfin humor to her books, which transform what (in other hands) might have been dry historical/cultural works into genuine page-turners. This Halloween history is likely to be my go-to book every autumn.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Halloween has been my favorite holiday for the past 3+ decades. As a child it meant making my own costumes and decorations, hosting the big Halloween party for all my friends, and hearing stories from my dad about scrounging through trunks of old clothes in the attic and tumbling through his little Midwestern hometown with all his brothers. "Adult" Halloween and I never meshed. My version of the holiday now involves upping the ante when it comes to decorating the house, handing out treats, and roaming the neighborhood in a more elaborate homemade costume.

My "adult" version of Halloween has also come to involve reading everything I can find about the holiday. I want to know about its origins, earlier practices, how and why it has changed since I was a kid, etc. It's not reading, but I also go to historical recreation Halloween dinners and celebrations (yes, these exist).

I'm a cultural historian (doctorate in art history and archaeology, but it's really cultural and visual history), so that's the kind of viewpoint I can offer here:

From where I stand, this is absolutely the best book on Halloween and its history as a cultural phenomenon. I've read Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night by Nicolas Rogers and though that book is supposedly more scholarly, I honestly don't think it was as interesting or informative. Whatever your level of interest, I'd recommend Lisa Morton's book over that one. In fact, if you just want to learn enough about Halloween's past to recreate a 19th century party, I think this book would be a great resource for you.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lisa Morton's Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween is not the ultimate Halloween reference work (though one doubts that any single book could qualify in that capacity), but that said, it is arguably the best single book on the history of Halloween that you could ever want. At 199 pages, it is a comparatively short book and remarkably compact, and yet it covers an enormous amount of material, more than making up in breadth what it might possibly lack in depth. It is also filled with a number of illustrations, from centuries-old woodcuts to contemporary photographs which really give the reader a feel for the periods being covered (and if you're old enough, a nostalgic feel for Halloweens remembered from childhood).

Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
Lisa Morton follows up her amazing HALLOWEEN ENCYCLOPEDIA with a quick and informative read. Think you know the history of Halloween? You're wrong. DEAD WRONG. Morton smashes all the common misconceptions of Halloween (including that persistent bugger of a myth that it was once a festival to worship Samhain, A Celtic God of Death that never actually existed). If you're a Halloween nut, curious about the holiday, or know someone who's been put off by the BS anti-Halloween tales, pick up this book. You will not regret it.
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