An American History in Haunted Places

eBook - 2016
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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.

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.
Publisher: New York : Viking, 2016.
ISBN: 9781101980217
Characteristics: text file
1 online resource
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc. - Distributor

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AnnabelleLee27 Nov 15, 2017

An intriguing & intelligent look at how American ghost stories not only come to inhabit particular places but how they continue to reflect broader unresolved anxieties in our society. Dickey deftly pulls together architecture, history, etymology, psychology, and technology in his lively discussion. A fun and smart read.

lindab2662 Mar 23, 2017

"When is a creaking floorboard more than just a creaking floorboard? And what is behind the ghost stories that we tell? A spinster locked in a decaying mansion, a slave on a plantation whose soul won't rest - what are they trying to say to us from beyond the grave?"
Read this book with the lights on.

AL_HANNAHS Mar 01, 2017

This book discusses how places such as historic homes, public parks and buildings, hotels, asylums, etc., across America have come to be haunted not only by ghosts, but by their history and the communal feelings we have about our past. Thoroughly researched and eloquently written, this was the most intriguing book I read from 2016.

EvaELPL Feb 02, 2017

As a lifelong fan of "true" ghost stories and haunted histories, when I picked up this book I suspected it wouldn't be telling me much I hadn't heard before. I was pleasantly surprised by how wrong I was! This book is less so about the haunted locations of America that are featured (of which most paranormal fans will already be aware of -- your Winchester Mystery Houses and Moundsville Penitentiaries, etc.), but rather what the myths and truths of those stories tell us about our history and society. Dickey ties our hauntings to issues of race, class, gender, and more, and the result is more insightful than you'd expect.

ehbooklover Dec 16, 2016

3.5 stars. I admit it. I love ghost stories. Some might call me obsessed. I own several books on the topic.

I borrowed this thinking that it would be another "typical" collection of ghost stories. It was more than that. It was an examination of why these stories exist and why we as a society enjoy hearing/telling them. I enjoyed this book and I especially liked learning about how some of the stories I have read/heard about actually evolved over time.


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Mar 12, 2017

"The legend of Sarah Winchester depends on a cultural uneasiness to which we don't always like to admit. An uneasiness about women living alone, withdrawn from society, for one."

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