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Ghostland : An American History in Haunted Places
by Colin Dickey


Overview - One of NPR's Great Reads of 2016
A lively assemblage and smart analysis of dozens of haunting stories absorbing and] intellectually intriguing. The New York Times Book Review

An intellectual feast for fans of offbeat history, Ghostland takes readers on a road trip through some of the country's most infamously haunted places and deep into the dark side of our history.
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More About Ghostland by Colin Dickey
 
 
 
Overview
One of NPR's Great Reads of 2016
A lively assemblage and smart analysis of dozens of haunting stories absorbing and] intellectually intriguing. The New York Times Book Review

An intellectual feast for fans of offbeat history, Ghostlandtakes readers on a road trip through some of the country's most infamously haunted places and deep into the dark side of our history.


Colin Dickey is on the trail of America's ghosts. Crammed into old houses and hotels, abandoned prisons and empty hospitals, the spirits that linger continue to capture our collective imagination, but why? His own fascination piqued by a house hunt in Los Angeles that revealed derelict foreclosures and "zombie homes," Dickey embarks on a journey across the continental United States to decode and unpack the American history repressed in our most famous haunted places. Some have established reputations as "the most haunted mansion in America," or "the most haunted prison"; others, like the haunted Indian burial grounds in West Virginia, evoke memories from the past our collective nation tries to forget.
With boundless curiosity, Dickey conjures the dead by focusing on questions of the living how do we, the living, deal with stories about ghosts, and how do we inhabit and move through spaces that have been deemed, for whatever reason, haunted? Paying attention not only to the true facts behind a ghost story, but also to the ways in which changes to those facts are made and why those changes are made Dickey paints a version of American history left out of the textbooks, one of things left undone, crimes left unsolved.
Spellbinding, scary, and wickedly insightful, Ghostland discovers the past we're most afraid to speak of aloud in the bright light of day is the same past that tends to linger in the ghost stories we whisper in the dark."

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781101980194
  • ISBN-10: 1101980192
  • Publisher: Viking
  • Publish Date: October 2016
  • Page Count: 336
  • Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.05 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Body, Mind & Spirit > Supernatural
Books > Social Science > Death & Dying
Books > History > United States - General

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2016-07-04
  • Reviewer: Staff

In the introduction to this illuminating study of so-called true hauntings and the American public’s enduring fascination with them, Dickey (Cranioklepty) posits that “ghost stories reveal the contours of our anxieties, the nature of our collective fears and desires, the things we can’t talk about in any other way.” Grouping haunts into four categories—houses, hangouts, institutions, and entire towns—he shows how the persistence of these ghost stories, especially when their details change with the times, say more about the living than the dead. Noting how popular accounts of the ghost of Myrtles Plantation has shifted over the years from that of an abused slave to revenants from a Native American burial ground beneath the plantation, Dickey notes that “ghost stories like this are a way for us to revel in the open wounds of the past.” Describing the ghost stories that cropped up in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation, he writes that ghost stories “are how cities make sense of themselves: how they narrate the tragedies of their past, weave cautionary tales for the future.” In contrast to many compendia of “true” ghost stories, Dickey embeds all of the fanciful tales he recounts in a context that speaks “to some larger facet of American consciousness.” His book is a fascinating, measured assessment of phenomena more often exploited for sensationalism. Agent: Anna Sproul-Latimer, Ross Yoon Agency. (Oct.)

 
BookPage Reviews

Not for the faint of heart

From real haunted spaces to magic spells you can cast at home, these three new books offer plenty of spine-tingling spookiness.

THROUGH THE GLASS
It’s a given in many a fairy tale and myth: There’s more to a mirror than meets the eye. Mickie Mueller explores the legends and the lore the glass has inspired over the centuries in The Witch’s Mirror. An expert on natural and fairy magic, Mueller delivers a crash course in wizardry via this little volume, providing background on what makes a magic mirror tick while urging readers to tap into the power that lies behind its silvered facade. Would-be witches will find instructions on how to prepare their own magic mirrors, along with a wide range of incantations involving the glass (who can pass up the “You Are Beautiful Spell”?). Mueller also provides advice on using mirrors for meditation and astral travel. Filled with insights from practicing witches, this handbook of enchantment is an October treat.

SERIOUSLY SCARY
It’s hard to imagine a better-qualified chronicler of America’s paranormal past than historian Colin Dickey, who came of age not far from our nation’s most haunted abode, the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California. A longtime connoisseur of the macabre—he was once director of Brooklyn’s Morbid Anatomy Museum—Dickey takes readers on a spine-tingling tour of supernatural sites in Ghostland. From Portland, Oregon’s Cathedral Park, where a young woman was brutally murdered in 1949, to Shiloh, Tennessee’s infamous Civil War battleground, Dickey explores the hotels and homes, bars and brothels, asylums and—yes—cemeteries that have hosted all manner of eerie activity over the centuries. Along the way, he addresses larger questions about how the living deal with the possible presence of the dead. Pursuing ghosts from coast to coast, Dickey delivers a truly creepy travelogue that’s a must-have for Halloween.

HEAD TRIP
Marc Hartzman resurrects a disquieting bit of British history in The Embalmed Head of Oliver Cromwell. A political heavyweight who helped orchestrate the downfall of King Charles I, Cromwell was interred in Westminster Abbey in 1658. King Charles II, seeking revenge for his father, dug the statesman up, cut off his head and placed it on a post at Westminster Hall, where it remained for two decades, until—liberated by the forces of nature—it began a protracted postmortem journey, passing through the hands of curio collectors and museum owners. In his deliciously twisted book, Hartzman tracks the unhappy fate of Cromwell’s pate over the course of 300 years, and in a ghoulish turn of ventriloquism, he lets the head do the talking. From beginning to end, this startling yarn is recounted by Cromwell’s long-suffering skull, and it has quite a story to share. Unsettling, yes, but also irresistible.

 

This article was originally published in the October 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews