The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, Photography, and the Man Who Captured Lincoln's Ghost

The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, Photography, and the Man Who Captured Lincoln's Ghost

by Peter Manseau

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Overview

The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, Photography, and the Man Who Captured Lincoln's Ghost by Peter Manseau


A story of faith and fraud in post–Civil War America, told through the lens of a photographer who claimed he could capture images of the dead

In the early days of photography, in the death-strewn wake of the Civil War, one man seized America’s imagination. A “spirit photographer,” William Mumler took portrait photographs that featured the ghostly presence of a lost loved one alongside the living subject. Mumler was a sensation: The affluent and influential came calling, including Mary Todd Lincoln, who arrived at his studio in disguise amidst rumors of séances in the White House.  
 
Peter Manseau brilliantly captures a nation wracked with grief and hungry for proof of the existence of ghosts and for contact with their dead husbands and sons. It took a circus-like trial of Mumler on fraud charges, starring P. T. Barnum for the prosecution, to expose a fault line of doubt and manipulation. And even then, the judge sided with the defense—nobody ever solved the mystery of his spirit photography. This forgotten puzzle offers a vivid snapshot of America at a crossroads in its history, a nation in thrall to new technology while clinging desperately to belief. 
 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780544745971
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 10/10/2017
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 458,124
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

PETER MANSEAU is a fellow at the Smithsonian. He is the author of Rag and Bone, Songs for the Butcher's Daughter, Vows, One Nation, Under Gods, and Melancholy Accidents. He is a winner of the National Jewish Book Award, the American Library Association's Sophie Brody Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Jewish Literature, the Ribalow Prize for Fiction, and a 2012 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, and he has also been short-listed for the Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize and the Prix Médicis étranger, awarded to the year's best foreign novel published in France. He is a founding editor of Killing the Buddha, and he lives in Annapolis, Maryland. 

Hometown:

Charlottesville, Virginia

Date of Birth:

November 15, 1974

Place of Birth:

Washington, D.C.

Education:

B.A., University of Massachusetts, 1996

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