Review: The Complete Book of Ghosts

3 stars

The Complete Book of Ghosts
~ Paul Roland (Author)

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Chartwell Books (April 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0785822801
  • ISBN-13: 978-0785822806

    I guess that my first problem with the book would be the title. If it is “The Complete Book of Ghosts” it should be … well … complete. I think that a better title might be a “concise book of ghosts.”

    That isn’t to say “The Complete Book of Ghosts” doesn’t cover a broad range of ghostly phenomena. The book briefly touches on spirits from several religions.

    In Buddhism, the personality is believed to dissolve at the moment of death leaving only pure consciousness (rupa) to seek a new body unless the individual was an enlightened soul (bodhisattva) in which case it can ascend to the higher states of being and there choose when to intervene in the lives of the living as a guiding spirit. However, those individuals who are as yet unable to free themselves from earthly attachments may descend into the realm of the hungry ghosts, the Buddhist equivalent of the Christian Hell.

    Sadly, that chapter was only eight pages long. Hardly what I would call complete. Having said that, the material is very interesting.

    THE MODERN PREOCCUPATION with the paranormal could be said to have begun in 1848 with the publication of The Night Side of Nature. The Victorians were avid readers of ghost stories, but they bought this collection in unprecedented quantities because its author, Scottish novelist Catherine Crowe, appealed both to their romanticism and their reason. Her obvious delight in describing Gothic horrors was balanced with rigorous research. Each episode was backed up by witness statements, documents and dates to reinforce the author’s belief that the supernatural was as worthy of serious investigation as the natural sciences. Her view was that the scientific establishment was arrogant and presumptuous in stating that all paranormal phenomena were the result of hysteria. It was her contention that the majority of scientists ‘arrange the facts to their theory, not their theory to the facts’.

    I did enjoy reading about some of the early Spiritualist movement. Roland covers the Fox sisters and the paranormal activity of that day. However; Roland only gives less than one page to fakes and frauds.

    Finally, the book covers the tv show “Most Haunted” and explains the tools and techniques needed for your own ghost hunts.

    It was a fun read, but it promised so much more …

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