'Ghosts - A Natural History: 500 Years of Searching for Proof' by Roger Clarke
An interesting exploration by Clarke into the recent history of human belief in ghosts. - Louis Charles
Enthralling. Seriously, each night before bed, I looked forward to picking up my copy of Ghosts and reading a chapter. Reviewing Roger Clarke's latest work was a real treat, something that caught me by surprise.
Having read quite a bit of material the past decade on the subject of ghosts, it's fairly difficult for me to find a book on the subject that has something new to share. Yet, I found the comparisons, the contrasts in human nature, and our belief in ghosts something masterfully researched by author Clarke.
The book begins with Clarke's own boyhood intrigue of the subject, a personal journey of his to understand the paranormal that began long ago and, essentially, summed up in Ghosts. The work is deeply researched and very well written, covering a variety of historical accounts of haunting with a healthy air of skepticism, in some cases, yet still in a spirit of wonder - a desire to 'know.'
Roger Clarke gives his readers a history lesson, of sorts, sharing classifications of ghosts, the history of ghost hunting, famous ghost sightings, and the human fascination, reaction and interaction with sightings of disembodied entities. His discourse on the subject would not have been complete without fully examining possible explanations for why we see ghosts. Is it hallucination? Misinterpretation? Something else?
Most importantly, Clarke uncovers some very interesting observations about our ghost encounters:
- Stories of ghosts often seem to have ties to, or have seemingly influenced, other ghost stories
- Tales of ghosts have legs and are often embellished and change over time
- How witnesses perceived and described ghosts the past 500 years has a direct relationship with their social class, religious affiliation, and influence by media.
To me, Ghosts is a must read, an intelligently written book revealing what happens when we see a ghost, what we believe when this happens, and the accounts we give others about those experiences. It is a brilliantly insightful observation of human nature and our penchant to believe in the supernatural.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (October 7, 2014)