on 3 June 2009
Peter Haining (whose book was published posthumously) has included a lifetime's worth of collected material - including newspaper articles covering a century of reports, a wide variety of reputable personages recounting their experiences with ghosts, eyewitness accounts from profressional journalists, a chapter on theories put forth by experts, a 'phantoms of the world' glossary at the end, and a lot more besides. This book is packed with well sourced evidence from the anecdotal to the professional investigators' of the paranormal. It is both engaging, informative and never boring (which all too many books on the 'afterlife' and 'hauntings', despite such a fascinating topic, are). Highly recommended.
P.S. If Peter Hainings compilation appeals, the book 'Night Side of Nature' by Catherine Crowe is sure to please. It was first published in 1848 and enjoyed great success for 50 years but now, unfortunately, is largely forgotten, though it most recently was reprinted by Wordsworth. Night Side of Nature is a paranormal tour de force. It is packed with almost 400 pages of accounts of apparitions of all varieties interspersed with arguments for and against investigators conclusions and opinions and is possibly the single best all around read on ghostly experiences. Catherine Crowe was also the first person to bring the word 'poltergeist' into the English language - the famous discussion is included in the Wordsworth publication which brings both volumes into one book. (A wee note - when Mrs Crowe writes of 'somnambules' she is basically referring to mediums of the day; when speaking of 'magnetism' she is referring what contemporary investigators might call 'psychic energy' or, more esoterically, 'magical sympathy').
on 13 September 2012
I Thought it would be a bit more "developed" that this. It's clippings from newspapers and other sort of news put together in a book. It's historically interesting as you can clearly see how people wrote the news in late 1900's ( Headless pumpkin ghost attacks Ms.Crowley by "boooooooing" her at night ) kinda thing...
Then in the also late 60's you start to get some interesting well written articles which actually compensate the poor ones :)
As I said, historically speaking is a 5 star, for the average ghost story freak is a 1... So that's why I've placed it in the middle and gave it a 3
As Peter Haining's posthumously published editorial swansong, this is a highly entertaining and thoughtful read and has every right to wear its own self-proclaimed boast of being 'the definitive record of real-life hauntings in modern times'; and to wear it with some pride too.
As Mr Haining himself mentions, the book is 'the result of almost half a century of research into incidents of true hauntings'. As such, it combines personal accounts, newspaper stories and extracts from other works concerned with the supernatural and the paranormal. It is organised into nine different sections, with an additional bibliography and a somewhat geographically restricted list of 'research organisations' who one would presumably call in the event that the 'Ghostbusters' proved to be a bit supernaturally snowed under.
I have a very general interest in ghosts and their associated stories, but I actually bought this for my two little relatives (aged 8 and 5) - although I am not for one moment proposing that it is suitable for anyone of that age to read by themselves, not at all. However, they are currently involved in a very enthusiastic countdown to Hallowe'en which originally seemed to be based, almost in its entirety, upon the anticipated excitement of their dressing up as witches and eating sweets. Well, I figured that I, with the help of this book, ought to at least try to add a little bit more 'substance' to their whole Hallowe'en experience. So, I read the stories myself and then I either read a suitably child-friendly abridged version straight back to them or I retell the story in a suitably child-friendly manner. And jolly successful this has been so far too. Although, for obvious reasons, the section on 'Phantom Lovers' has been totally ignored in my bespoke attempts at emulating 'Jackanory'.
I mentioned the nine different sections, didn't I? Well, let's just take a closer look at each of those;
1. A Century of Hauntings - this is a collection of apparently paranormal newspaper articles, presented in chronological order, covering the period of time from 1900 to the year 2000. Each article only takes up perhaps half a page at most and they are fascinating just as snapshots of history, never mind their ghostly angle.
2. The Ghost Hunters - fifty authentic accounts of supernatural events from well-known and well-respected paranormal investigators like Tony Cornell, Archie Roy and Peter Underwood.
3. Phantoms in the Sky - a short but fascinating collection of accounts relating to hauntings within the field of aviation.
4. Encounters With The Unknown - journalists' eyewitness tales
5. Haunted Stars - stories from the world of showbusiness. Telly Savalas' incredibly famous tale of being given a lift to a petrol station one night by a ghost appears, as does the 'Tyrone Power Is Dead' experience that happened to Vincent Price. But there are an awful lot of less well-known accounts included too.
6. Supernatural Tales - these are 'true' ghost stories from famous authors. I'm a literary philistine, so most of the authors I had never even heard of (Barbara Cartland, Frederick Forsyth and Dennis Wheatley being among the more notable exceptions)... but it doesn't alter the fact that first-hand supernatural accounts are always fascinating, no matter who is telling you about them.
7. Phantom Lovers - oh, my giddy aunt. Some of the stories here are very explicit indeed, both in language and description. But tales of entities who have not allowed death to in any way dampen their libido have been reported, so Peter Haining was quite justified in including such reports in his 'definitive' work.
8. What Are Ghosts? - a collection of theories on the answer to that question put forward by a host of noted experts.
9. An A-Z of Ghosts - it's only twenty pages long and alphabetically lists a variety of different global supernatural phenomena.
All in all, this is a very good read. It can be easily dipped in and out of and presents the stories impartially, for the reader to decide just how much they choose to believe. And there are some genuinely chilling tales contained within these pages. None more so, as far as I am concerned, than the singer Tommy Steele's presumably paranormal account on page 384. I don't know how many times I have read that but it never fails to send a genuine shiver down my spine.
on 21 February 2012
I purchased this book to feed a ghost story craving and my craving was nearly satiated. There are a few weird stories that I thought might have been put in a separate book (sexual encounters with ghosts? OK! Whatever!), but with 457 pages of actual stories, this book is a bargain. I think I love "true" ghost stories because most of the story is left out and I can wonder what might have happened (I'm a writer). This book offers lots stories with lots of space to wonder, but there were a number of stories I skipped over because they sounded boring or made up. I enjoyed the book, but it will never be a favorite and I can't imagine reading it again unlike Catherine Crowe's The Night Side of Nature. That is an amazing book for numerous reasons. The Night Side of Nature I can see myself reading again and again not only because Crowe is excellent at retelling ghost stories, but because she engages the brain and makes one think of all sorts of things that have nothing to do with the paranormal.
on 8 March 2015
This is really a great book,there is over 100,eyewitness accounts of modern day hauntings.It seems that,around the twentieth/earley twenty-first century,even more ghosts have been reported.All over the world,the book tells the reader of documented hauntings and poltergeists.There is also notes from famous ghost hunters,if you like real ghost stories,this is the book for you.
on 4 March 2013
As an afficionado of true ghost tales, I've waded through through many works of wildly varying quality and originality, and have found this to be one of the best. It covers a wide range of experiences, many of which were new to me, and does so with style and verve, yes, and with a pretty high chill factor. The only comparable works I can think of are Ian Wilson's In Search of Ghosts, Vivienne Rae-Ellis's True Ghost Stories of our Own Time and pretty much anything by Joan Forman. Highly recommended, although the price seems to have risen dramatically since I purchased!