Ghosts: A Haunted History


Product Details

Reaktion Books
Publish Date
5.0 X 0.7 X 7.7 inches | 0.45 pounds
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About the Author

Lisa Morton is the author of Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween, also published by Reaktion Books and winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Nonfiction.


"Morton's brisk, handsomely illustrated Ghosts: A Haunted History canters through millennia of supposed uncanny interruptions with a kind of puckish skepticism. . . . Morton excels at presenting us with instances of the persistence of belief, across all times and cultures. . . . there are moments all the same when the hint of something truly uncanny is permitted to intrude." -- "Times Literary Supplement"
"Halloween isn't the only time for ghosts and ghost stories. . . . Lisa Morton offers a compact account of the human propensity to believe in otherworldly apparitions. She discusses, among other matters, haunted houses, spiritualism, ghost-hunting, 'Day of the Dead' and spectral terrors in literature, film and popular culture. To give body and shape to these phantoms and airy nothings, Morton packs her book with images--of paintings, creepy spirit photographs, movie stills and even a full-page illustration of Casper the Friendly Ghost. . . . abounds with phantasmic lore of every kind. . . . reminds us that it's when the days are shortest and the nights darkest that we most need warmth and light and family. Paradoxically, it's at this same time of the year, and under just those cozy conditions, that we most enjoy spooky stories. 'There was a man dwelt by a churchyard, ' whispers a character in Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale and then breaks off. No matter. People have been imagining, and telling, what happened next ever since."-- "Washington Post"
"Ghosts is intelligent and well structured. It's also well informed, which is apparent in the sheer volume of spectral examples that Morton has collected, yet her writing style remains accessible. . . . The perfect companion for those who err towards skepticism over embellishment yet still find themselves riddled in goose-pimples when they hear a creak in the floorboards in the dead of night."-- "Rue Morgue"
"This year's Halloween has passed, but for many the interest in things that go bump in the night is alive and well. From classic ghost stories told around a campfire to the slew of recent ghost hunting TV shows, ghosts have been the most prevalent otherworldly beings around for years. Luckily for those of us who love a good ghost story, Morton has written the ultimate guide on the shadowy superstars of the supernatural realm."-- "PopMatters"
"As Morton shows in this spine-tingling study, belief in ghosts is nearly universal, though the form taken by the 'undead spirit' varies across time and space."-- "Guardian"
"Morton's admirably cool and dispassionate summary incorporates an astonishing range of reference, covering phantoms, spirits, and wraiths worldwide, including the Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival, the Japanese holiday known as Obon (during which families leave food for wandering souls), the Dia de los Muertos in Mexico, and the various ghosts and legends of Brazil, Africa, Australia and India. The book's geographical scope is matched by its historical sweep, which begins with a discussion of the edimmu of ancient Mesopotamia and the various spirits of the classical world, and continues all the way through the Middle Ages, to nineteenth-century spiritualism and beyond."-- "Spectator"