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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating subject, brilliantly written
Roger Clarke has to be the most well-placed person to write a `natural history' of ghosts. Haunted as a child, he became the youngest ever member of the Society for Psychical Research. The subject has been a matter of fascination for him ever since, and he has remained a keen investigator to this day. A Natural History of Ghosts gives detailed accounts of famous...
Published 19 months ago by Book Critic

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but not compelling
After reading the first lines of the book which drew me in nicely this turned out to be a bit of a mish - mash of a book. Not an awful book by any means and parts of it are very enjoyable, but it really didn't seem consistent enough throughout.
Areas of it are quite thought provoking especially the "angel switch" theory, whereas other subjects which at first seem of...
Published 19 months ago by Nick C


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating subject, brilliantly written, 15 Jan 2013
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Book Critic (UK) - See all my reviews
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Roger Clarke has to be the most well-placed person to write a `natural history' of ghosts. Haunted as a child, he became the youngest ever member of the Society for Psychical Research. The subject has been a matter of fascination for him ever since, and he has remained a keen investigator to this day. A Natural History of Ghosts gives detailed accounts of famous hauntings. They range from ancient ghost stories, through the Victorian passion for séances, to the modern ghost investigation - which is not new at all, but began with famous faker Harry Price, who pioneered the live ghost hunt on radio in the 1920s - coming bang up to date with TAPS, Most Haunted and Ghost Adventures. An attempted taxonomy details different kinds of ghosts: the `stone-tape' type, doomed to go through the motions over and over and over again, who seem to be mere recordings in time. And the far more chilling kind, who speak and interact, intelligently, with the living and their fellow dead, like the - still unexplained - Enfield poltergeist.

Clarke tries his hardest to maintain a dry and sceptical look at hauntings, ancient and modern, but cannot help observing that ghosts are certainly real; ghosts have been and continue to be experienced and documented across time and space, and the only debate is, what are they, really? Are they all figments of the imagination or out and out fakes? The actual spirits of the dead? Or a phenomenon that is, as yet, unexplained? Sadly, Roger Clarke has no answers, and provides no conclusions, either, he simply delivers pure information with which we must make up our own minds. As the sceptical George Bernard Shaw told Henry James that, "No man who doesn't believe in a ghost ever sees one." Maybe the truth is the other way around? That those who believe in ghosts, do so precisely because they have seen one.

Roger Clarke keeps his account objective, distancing himself personally, from what he is documenting. Personally, I would have enjoyed a wee bit more personal input and opinion from a man who, above almost all other authors, is best placed to give an informed opinion. Perhaps the most surprising thing about this book is that it is never in the least bit dry. Roger Clarke is a natural writer and story teller. This is a smooth, easy, fascinating read to anyone with the slightest interest in the subject, and very highly recommended indeed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but not compelling, 12 Jan 2013
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Nick C (Middleton, Manchester) - See all my reviews
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After reading the first lines of the book which drew me in nicely this turned out to be a bit of a mish - mash of a book. Not an awful book by any means and parts of it are very enjoyable, but it really didn't seem consistent enough throughout.
Areas of it are quite thought provoking especially the "angel switch" theory, whereas other subjects which at first seem of interest can get bogged down in the accompanying text which at times can go through a myriad of histories/theories and investigations. It may well be of more interest to a person with a strong interest in the phenomenon of ghosts and of the ghost hunt as opposed to someone like myself with a passing (though certain) interest. If anything the book suggested to me that if there is such a thing as a ghost then you'll have to wade through a mass of fakery and deception before you get to anything of relevance that might suggest any other wordly goings on outside of anything the human mind can conjure up.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulously Mysterious, 27 Sep 2013
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This book has become a real hit within our family. I initially bought it as a gift for the in-laws who not only devoured it, but went on to recommend, discuss and (pretty much) force it on all who would listen.

This book offers a brilliant narrative on some very British ghost stories. Without shying away from the dark, seedy edges of reality, A Natural History of Ghosts discusses fact next to fiction and asks the reader to consider whether the story itself might be the truth that we so often seek.

Beautifully written, easy to read and engaging to the last. I love this book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read however, 5 Feb 2014
This review is from: A Natural History of Ghosts: 500 Years of Hunting for Proof (Paperback)
I can't help in thinking that he researched some subjects without any real knowledge, for starters on page 23 he mentions the devil dogs and the scorch marks on Bungay church. Sorry Mr Clarke but those scorch marks are actually Blytheburgh church and not Bungay. We then get forewords by the Daily mail and Starburst magazine (who?) saying how well researched the book is....Idiots, perhaps they need to research their researchers better.
Having had my Victor Meldrew moment though it is entertaining,just don't take it too serious.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Madame Arcati's Most excellent Book of the Year 2013, 21 Dec 2013
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This review is from: A Natural History of Ghosts: 500 Years of Hunting for Proof (Paperback)
From Madame Arcati blog:

Divine, darling. Or, as Craig Revel Horwood might say if not too busy eyeing up male dancer buttock curvature, 'fab-u-larse!' Published last year, the paperback released a few weeks ago, this is by far the most fascinating survey of paranormal sightings and encounters I have ever read.

Ingenuity starts at concept stage. Clarke sets out not to debate whether ghosts exist. He is much more interested in the anthropology of spectral experiences and research - or put another way, in relating true-life ghost tales, the 'scientific' attempts to understand them and in classifying the different types of spook: elementals, poltergeists, etc.

This is clever and fortuitous because Clarke knows he'd lose most of his mainstream critical audience if he entertained the notion, even for a moment, that ghosts exist as sentient post-mortem entities. One feature of secularism and atheism is the absolute conviction that life starts and ends with synaptic crackle 'n' pop. But there's no question people have ghostly liaisons. I have seen a ghost. You probably have. Pliny wrote of a haunted house in 100 AD. The materialist will flesh out any unscientific explanation-away provided no concession is made to afterlife drivel. The winner is not rationalism but a replacement irrationalism.

Clarke knows all this as a veteran Poirot of psychical inquiry. So instead he sits us down by a log fire, creeps us out with weird tales, documents the countless vain attempts to solve the mystery of hauntings and treats the topic (of ghosts) as an aspect of immemorial human experience.

Clarke writes tremendously well - an essential component of any effects-driven tale both to satisfy the Bunsen burner know-all and trembly Susan Hill addict. The slightest hint of irony here and there gives sceptics their calorific fill while oo-ee-oo narrative pleases the rest of us. He is unafraid of the plodding nature of prose, the focus on patient set-ups - Gore Vidal called this vital writerly process 'grazing'. The cow's temperament is vital to story-telling.

I also commend Clarke's end notes which combine scholarly learning with a sly sense of humour. At the very least you end up sceptically well-informed and enthralled.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Readable, 8 Jan 2013
By 
GratuitousViolets "Ash" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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Although this book is certainly a readable collection of information on the subject, I found it to be quite hard to get into initially. At times I'd be sitting eager to read about the ghosts and the events that took place with the ghosts in question, but instead be reading up to four or five pages of description about the area the author has visited and who he visited the area with but then perhaps only a sentence or two about the actual ghost itself (most peculiar). At times, I felt a lot of paragraphs were long-winded and took too long to get to what I really wanted to read about (by which time I was bored). May just be me, though.

If you're interested on famous ghost hunters (Harry Price for example) then this book offers a little background on their origins and theories, as well as explains about the types of ghost and what their hauntings/appearances might be caused by (from a scientific view, people might find this a little more interesting than those of us who just like spooky things).

It's not the most fascinating book on the subject I've read on the subject, and it's not 'unputdownable', but it makes for some light reading before bedtime.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars GOOD BOOK, BUT A MISSED OPPORTUNITY?, 7 Jan 2013
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Paul (Pembrokeshire) - See all my reviews
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I have to agree with some of the other reviewers and say that this is a good attempt but just misses the fantastic mark. Clarke has seemingly tried to create a book that would wish to be considered the ghost hunters version of The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: or the Murder at Road Hill House by Kate Summerscale but for only parts of paragraphs or when it suits him. The overall result works for some of the accounts and does not quite work for others. If you can move beyond this gripe then the book overall provides an enjoyable read. Had Clarke continued in the style of his introduction, the book would have been a fantastic, hide under the sheets and sleep with the lights on affair! Still, it's good fun, intriguing and worthy of a read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Natural History of Ghosts, 17 Feb 2013
By 
A. V. Calvert (Thorne,Doncaster) - See all my reviews
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Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book held my attention with really eerie stories.It is a book you can dip in and read a story at a time.There are some blood curdling moments in it.Very spooky and quite funny in parts.This is a must for fans of ghosts real or imaginary.
This kept me enthralled for a long time.
The information about John Wesley the Methodist founder was quite good.He believed in ghosts and the supernatural.It shows that the talk of ghosts will not go away,they will always be there.
I received this book free with Amazon Vine
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 6 July 2014
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This review is from: A Natural History of Ghosts: 500 Years of Hunting for Proof (Paperback)
Great book
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5.0 out of 5 stars So far so good, 29 Jan 2014
By 
Mr. N. Bardell (Milton Keynes, Bucks, UK) - See all my reviews
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First off I feel that I should say that am only currently on page 100 or so.
However, I have found this book a great read and very intriguing, so much, in fact, that I have found
it hard to put down at night.

There are a few negative reviews here, and to be honest, I can't see why that should be so. Personally I have found this book an educational and very interesting read.

I have been conducting research into the possibility of ghosts for around 14 years. I normally stay away from the sensationalist type of ghost books, the ones that just regurgitate the same old ghost stories over and over again.
This book is not one of those (so far at least). It does, however, contain a lot of information on the historical background and evolution about ghost theories and the transitions of what people claim to have seen hundreds of years ago compared to what is commonly reported today.

Personally, I would take some of the negative reviews about this book being boring and ignore them, for I have found this book (again, so far) to be a fascinating read.
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A Natural History of Ghosts: 500 Years of Hunting for Proof
A Natural History of Ghosts: 500 Years of Hunting for Proof by Roger Clarke (Paperback - 3 Oct 2013)
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