A History of Ghosts: The True Story of Seances, Mediums, Ghosts, and Ghostbusters

Overview

Peter Aykroyd spent his childhood watching his family’s parlor séances through the crack of a basement door. Here, for the first time, Aykroyd tells the strange and delightful story that inspired his son, Dan, to make the mega-hit, Ghostbusters. Part history, part family legend, A History of Ghosts starts in 1848 in upstate New York, where the spiritualist craze first began. Aykroyd introduces the reader to notable mediums while telling the story of the development of spiritualism, interweaving a personal history...

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Overview

Peter Aykroyd spent his childhood watching his family’s parlor séances through the crack of a basement door. Here, for the first time, Aykroyd tells the strange and delightful story that inspired his son, Dan, to make the mega-hit, Ghostbusters. Part history, part family legend, A History of Ghosts starts in 1848 in upstate New York, where the spiritualist craze first began. Aykroyd introduces the reader to notable mediums while telling the story of the development of spiritualism, interweaving a personal history marked by a fascination with ghosts and spirits with the larger narrative about the role the paranormal has played in our culture. Such legendary figures as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini appear and vanish.

Everyone loves a good ghost story. Successful TV shows such as Medium and Ghost Hunters are proof that our national obsession with ghosts is here to stay. Millions of Americans believe in the paranormal—and even skeptics have heard a bump in the night and suspected it might be something supernatural.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

Squarely aimed at the fans of Ghostbusters (and just in time for its nascent revival in family rooms, video games and, reportedly, the big screen), this look at the paranormal is written by none other than the father of that blockbuster's co-creator and star, Dan Aykroyd; what fans might not know is that the Aykroyd family's interest in séances, mediums and apparitions was what inspired the hit supernatural comedy. The author's own grandfather was a spiritualist: he believed the human personality survives after bodily death, and practiced regular communication with ghosts-much of which he documented in journals. Aykroyd broadens the discussion with historical figures like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, who joined the Society of Psychical Research three weeks after his father's death. He also disarms skeptics with a chapter on the séance as theatrical performance, not much different from a movie, in which the ultimate goal is "the willing suspension of disbelief" in an audience, whom can then be "frightened, amused, touched, moved" by illusions. Less a Ghostbusters also-ran than a knowing, historical origin story, this is a smart consideration of the paranormal and a curious artifact of the Aykroyd legacy.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780594193210
  • Publisher: Rodale Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/29/2009
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

PETER AYKROYD is a retired Government of Canada Senior Executive. He is the author of two previous books, The Anniversary Compulsion and A Sense of Place. He lives on a plot of land 20 miles north of Kingston, Ontario, that has been in the family for 180 years.

ANGELA NARTH is a full-time writer of both fiction and nonfiction with seven books currently in print. She lives on the banks of the mighty Red River a few minutes south of Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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