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In the tradition of their Haunting of the Presidents, national bestselling authors Joel Martin and William J. Birnes write The Haunting of America: From The Salem Witch Trials to Harry Houdini, the only book to tell the story of how paranormal events influenced and sometimes even drove political events. In a narrative retelling of American history that begins with the Sale In the tradition of their Haunting of the Presidents, national bestselling authors Joel Martin and William J. Birnes write The Haunting of America: From The Salem Witch Trials to Harry Houdini, the only book to tell the story of how paranormal events influenced and sometimes even drove political events. In a narrative retelling of American history that begins with the Salem Witch Trials of the seventeenth century, Martin and Birnes unearth the roots of America's fascination with the ghosts, goblins, and demons that possess our imaginations and nightmares. The authors examine the political history of the United States through the lens of the paranormal and investigate the spiritual events that inspired public policy: channelers and meduims who have advised presidents, UFOs that frightened the nation's military into launching nuclear bomber squadrons toward the Soviet Union, out-of-body experiencers deployed to gather sensitive intelligence on other countries, and even spirits summoned to communicate with living politicians. The Haunting of America is a thrilling exploration of the often unexpected influences of the paranormal on science, medicine, law, government, the military, psychology, theology, death and dying, spirituality, and pop culture.


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In the tradition of their Haunting of the Presidents, national bestselling authors Joel Martin and William J. Birnes write The Haunting of America: From The Salem Witch Trials to Harry Houdini, the only book to tell the story of how paranormal events influenced and sometimes even drove political events. In a narrative retelling of American history that begins with the Sale In the tradition of their Haunting of the Presidents, national bestselling authors Joel Martin and William J. Birnes write The Haunting of America: From The Salem Witch Trials to Harry Houdini, the only book to tell the story of how paranormal events influenced and sometimes even drove political events. In a narrative retelling of American history that begins with the Salem Witch Trials of the seventeenth century, Martin and Birnes unearth the roots of America's fascination with the ghosts, goblins, and demons that possess our imaginations and nightmares. The authors examine the political history of the United States through the lens of the paranormal and investigate the spiritual events that inspired public policy: channelers and meduims who have advised presidents, UFOs that frightened the nation's military into launching nuclear bomber squadrons toward the Soviet Union, out-of-body experiencers deployed to gather sensitive intelligence on other countries, and even spirits summoned to communicate with living politicians. The Haunting of America is a thrilling exploration of the often unexpected influences of the paranormal on science, medicine, law, government, the military, psychology, theology, death and dying, spirituality, and pop culture.

30 review for The Haunting of America: From the Salem Witch Trials to Harry Houdini

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    A book of loose suppositions presented as a non-fiction American historical exploration of Spiritualism in the USA. This would have been better titled 'The Case for Spiritualism in American History'. I am not sure if I expected high scholarship or something more entertaining and anecdotal, but either would have been better than what was produced: "the skeptics can not prove with 100% certainty that this wasn't a case of the paranormal or psychic abilities, so clearly it must have been, oh and wh A book of loose suppositions presented as a non-fiction American historical exploration of Spiritualism in the USA. This would have been better titled 'The Case for Spiritualism in American History'. I am not sure if I expected high scholarship or something more entertaining and anecdotal, but either would have been better than what was produced: "the skeptics can not prove with 100% certainty that this wasn't a case of the paranormal or psychic abilities, so clearly it must have been, oh and while we're at take our word for it that these paranormal and/or psychic occurrences are responsible for ALL of the most important historical turning points in American history - you're welcome". This obviously took quite a bit of research and reading on the part of the authors, but then it either needed to be presented in a light entertaining fashion or a proper effort needed to be made to supplement the claims with something more than 5-word quotes from other books and conjecture. This book was so chock-full of absolutes on one hand and murkily tenuous connections on the other that it probably should receive a 1-star rating, but I'm going to be generous on the basis that a few interesting anecdotes were found between the covers that seem loosely based on corroborative writings. Allow me one further unkindness, I found the authors' voice to be whinny and thus annoying. Sorry, I wanted to like this much more than I did, it just grated with virtually every page. On second thought - I'm not feeling generous, this thing was a hot mess.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    The only good thing I can say about this books is that the first and last chapters, for the most part, were interesting. Just so happens, those are the parts about the Salem Witch Trails and Harry Houdini. I expected this book to be about the paranormal history of the United States, and one chapter in particular caught my eye: chapter 3, Is That You, Mr. Splitfood? I thought this chapter would be about devil lore in the US, of which there is no shortage. But no, like most of the book, it was abou The only good thing I can say about this books is that the first and last chapters, for the most part, were interesting. Just so happens, those are the parts about the Salem Witch Trails and Harry Houdini. I expected this book to be about the paranormal history of the United States, and one chapter in particular caught my eye: chapter 3, Is That You, Mr. Splitfood? I thought this chapter would be about devil lore in the US, of which there is no shortage. But no, like most of the book, it was about mediums, spiritualists, spirit rapping, and a lot of other foolishness. But, I am sure that the authors would not worry about my opinion, because, like so many others in the book, I would be dismissed as a skeptic. The blind acceptance of many of the mediums, even after some of them admitted they were frauds, was tedious. I often debated putting down the book, but wanted to keep reading in the hopes that it would get to another area of interesting history, like it did when discussing the Salem Witch Trails. But, as I read, I could such a strong bias that even the interesting history I would be worried about accepting without doing further research of my own.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tara Lynn

    I won't bother to repeat what everyone else seems to have already posted: bad scholarship, incorrect citations, dry reading, and a baffling lack of ANY mention of Cayce. I expected more from this book, and although I didn't win it in the First-Reads giveaway, it made it into my to-read list because it looked promising. Now I wish that I'd waited for the initial reviews before buying the book. I won't bother to repeat what everyone else seems to have already posted: bad scholarship, incorrect citations, dry reading, and a baffling lack of ANY mention of Cayce. I expected more from this book, and although I didn't win it in the First-Reads giveaway, it made it into my to-read list because it looked promising. Now I wish that I'd waited for the initial reviews before buying the book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

    This isn't your normal everyday ghost story book that holds just ghost stories. Instead what you'll find is a more textbook like book that looks into different parts of our American history that deal with the paranormal realm of ghosts and explains how those events helped shape our history here in America. So in other words it is a cultural study of how paranormal events have played a role in how our country has become what it is today and what effects those events have had on our country here i This isn't your normal everyday ghost story book that holds just ghost stories. Instead what you'll find is a more textbook like book that looks into different parts of our American history that deal with the paranormal realm of ghosts and explains how those events helped shape our history here in America. So in other words it is a cultural study of how paranormal events have played a role in how our country has become what it is today and what effects those events have had on our country here in the United States of America (I say our because I write this blog from the U.S.A. and that is just where my mental picture is formed). The book includes such events as the Salem Witch Trials, our founding fathers and the relevance of certain things they used in designing some of our most basic everyday items, the rise of spiritualism and the use of mediums as well as the influence of Houdini on our culture. Some of these you may have already looked into and researched, and so have I. However, there seemed a difference here to me in the way the authors presented all the cases. I have read a lot of negative views on this book, but if you are interested in the paranormal even a little bit it will do you good to at least browse through it and see if you can find something you have not come across in the past. Since it is presented similar to a textbook some of the entries can get drawn out and seem like they are taking forever to get through. My advice is to work your way through the book and that if you feel like you've hit a brick wall in your reading, stop take a break and read something else for awhile; you can always come back and pick up where you left off if you are feeling overwhelmed.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cassia Frankincense

    Due to the title and synopsis in the jacket I came into this book anticipating something vastly different than what I ended up reading. The introduction aggravated me and I really should have stopped there, but then the first chapter, about Salem, was pretty interesting and informative and I thought the book was going to take a turn for the better. Had the book anywhere in its advertising said that it was about the history of Spiritualism and full of many mini biographies about various mediums t Due to the title and synopsis in the jacket I came into this book anticipating something vastly different than what I ended up reading. The introduction aggravated me and I really should have stopped there, but then the first chapter, about Salem, was pretty interesting and informative and I thought the book was going to take a turn for the better. Had the book anywhere in its advertising said that it was about the history of Spiritualism and full of many mini biographies about various mediums throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, then I might have liked it a bit more or avoided it all together. As it was it didn't, and I ended up getting annoyed with the way they would focus on one medium/historical figure go through their lives and bring the reader up to a certain point in time only to backtrack to a previous point in time to go over another historic figure. The book was rambling, not well edited, and had random asides from the authors occasionally which made for an awkward read since it changed the tone. It came off as a book without a real plan on how to tie together all the information they wanted to impart and read pretty choppy as a result. I was looking for a book that explored the history of magical thinking in America along with attitudes and histories of various haunted areas in the country and this book is just not that.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    Wow, this book really benefits from having a legitimate-looking cover! I was super excited to read it, and was horribly disappointed to realize that it's a vanity press-style history with a ton of non-credible research put into it. It's all based on new age, paranormal "science". I slogged through most of the terrible 40+ page introduction about the ENTIRE history of the world, as viewed through a paranormal lens, and even kept going when the authors insisted that ancient Sumeria MUST have been Wow, this book really benefits from having a legitimate-looking cover! I was super excited to read it, and was horribly disappointed to realize that it's a vanity press-style history with a ton of non-credible research put into it. It's all based on new age, paranormal "science". I slogged through most of the terrible 40+ page introduction about the ENTIRE history of the world, as viewed through a paranormal lens, and even kept going when the authors insisted that ancient Sumeria MUST have been founded by an alien race. Their documentation included quotes from experts, like "The Earth was indeed visited in its past by astronauts from another planet." Because that proves their point? Sirs, that's an introductory statement to a paragraph, not something you quote as proof. Anyway, as much as I enjoy rolling my eyes at terrible books, I decided this wasn't worth my time. This is a fabulous idea for a book, but this is not it. I look forward to reading a history of how supernatural belief has impacted the United States someday, but don't waste your time on this.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Art

    The book should really be titled "The Paranormal in America, with some ancient history thrown in." The authors discuss paranormal events in the ancient world before diving into American history. From the Salem Witch trials to the Bell witch to spiritualism, the authors summarize paranormal events throughout American history. Until reading this book, I was mostly unaware of President and Mrs. Lincoln's interest and participation in spiritualism. The authors do make some mistakes. Early on the aut The book should really be titled "The Paranormal in America, with some ancient history thrown in." The authors discuss paranormal events in the ancient world before diving into American history. From the Salem Witch trials to the Bell witch to spiritualism, the authors summarize paranormal events throughout American history. Until reading this book, I was mostly unaware of President and Mrs. Lincoln's interest and participation in spiritualism. The authors do make some mistakes. Early on the authors say, "Following King Samuel's death, Saul became the ruler of Israel." Anyone who knows the Old Testament knows that Samuel was never a king in Israel. Samuel was the prophet and Saul was Israel's first king. The authors also claim St. Paul was "a Roman soldier of Jewish birth." Well, Paul was a Roman citizen and a Jew. I'm unaware of any solid evidence proving St. Paul ever served as a Roman soldier. These mistakes make me worry the authors may have made similar mistakes in dealing with other lesser known characters in the book. However, the book is entertaining and easy to read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Darcia Helle

    The title of this one can easily throw off a potential reader, which is a little irritating. There is nothing about hauntings in this book, as the title implies. Instead, the authors follow the history of spiritualism - psychics, mediums, etc. - throughout American history. We learn about the popular spiritualists of the day, their seances, etc. We also learn about a few popular politicians, such as Abraham Lincoln, who used mediums to help them make decisions. The writing was easy to follow, tho The title of this one can easily throw off a potential reader, which is a little irritating. There is nothing about hauntings in this book, as the title implies. Instead, the authors follow the history of spiritualism - psychics, mediums, etc. - throughout American history. We learn about the popular spiritualists of the day, their seances, etc. We also learn about a few popular politicians, such as Abraham Lincoln, who used mediums to help them make decisions. The writing was easy to follow, though, for me, a little too rambling at times. The one huge problem I have with it is that the authors never once so much as mentioned Edgar Cayce. I don't know how anyone can write a book that supposedly encompasses spiritualism, yet not once bring up Edgar Cayce's name. However, I did enjoy the chapter on women's role in spiritualism and its importance for the women's movement. The authors offered a unique perspective I have not seen in any other books.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

    I won this on a first-reads giveaway on goodreads. It's really more of a 2.5 star, but since I can't give half stars, 2 will have to do. This book wasn't really what I was expecting when I entered the first-read giveaway. I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting, but this textbook like read was not it. I found the arguments repetitive and tenuous in many parts. When the authors were just discussing events or stories of spiritualists or spiritual events it was fine, even interesting. However, when I won this on a first-reads giveaway on goodreads. It's really more of a 2.5 star, but since I can't give half stars, 2 will have to do. This book wasn't really what I was expecting when I entered the first-read giveaway. I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting, but this textbook like read was not it. I found the arguments repetitive and tenuous in many parts. When the authors were just discussing events or stories of spiritualists or spiritual events it was fine, even interesting. However, when they tried to prove that spiritualism must exist it at times got a little ridiculous. Sure, I'm a skeptic, but I wasn't expecting this book to try to persuade me that such things are real. I think I was expecting more of haunting stories throughout time in the US than the history of spiritualism.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    I won this book on Goodreads and am very thankful that I was so fortunate to be one of the chosen. When I got the book I thought it would be more about experiences that political people have had, and how it affected the choices that they made. This book reads more like a biography of how the supernatural came to be, and how our country has responded to it. Although it does have some supernatural events that happened to political people, it reads more like a history book. I find at times it does i I won this book on Goodreads and am very thankful that I was so fortunate to be one of the chosen. When I got the book I thought it would be more about experiences that political people have had, and how it affected the choices that they made. This book reads more like a biography of how the supernatural came to be, and how our country has responded to it. Although it does have some supernatural events that happened to political people, it reads more like a history book. I find at times it does in fact challenge the way you think about things, but at the same time I find that it seems to "grasp at straws" and contradicting itself to fill its pages. I would definitely recommend it to someone who is looking for a history book on the supernatural though. I particularly loved the story of the "Bell Witch".

  11. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    Won on first reads. As the world lost a great lady when my wonderful friend, Ramona, just passed away, this review will serve for both of us. She will be dearly missed and cancer will be cursed for taking her from us so young. Upon receiving this, I dug right in. I am very into paranormal aspects. I did not know about much of the things in this book. My intrests are peaked and things have been answered that I was curious about. I now want to go digging more into these areas and it is thanks to th Won on first reads. As the world lost a great lady when my wonderful friend, Ramona, just passed away, this review will serve for both of us. She will be dearly missed and cancer will be cursed for taking her from us so young. Upon receiving this, I dug right in. I am very into paranormal aspects. I did not know about much of the things in this book. My intrests are peaked and things have been answered that I was curious about. I now want to go digging more into these areas and it is thanks to this great book. Have re-read this a couple times. I think I really have to change the rating. I would love to read any more of these that follow it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Stacy

    So disappointed. I enjoyed The Haunting of the Presidents by these authors, and was expecting something similar. I did not expect entire chapters on Lincoln and other Presidents to be almost identical in both books. After a very short bit on Salem and the Founding Fathers, most of the book details the spiritualism movement. That's been done before, and far better, in a book called Lily Dale. The only interesting insight in that section is the relation between the women's rights movement and the So disappointed. I enjoyed The Haunting of the Presidents by these authors, and was expecting something similar. I did not expect entire chapters on Lincoln and other Presidents to be almost identical in both books. After a very short bit on Salem and the Founding Fathers, most of the book details the spiritualism movement. That's been done before, and far better, in a book called Lily Dale. The only interesting insight in that section is the relation between the women's rights movement and the spiritualism movement. All in all, I was not impressed. Better books on the topic are Spook, Lily Dale, and the excellent Not in Kansas Anymore ( by the same author as Lily Dale).

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jewell Moreno

    This book was fascinating. If you're looking for a book with scary ghost stories, this isn't it, although I did get spooked with the retelling of the Bell Witch story. Instead this book is a historical view of paranormal belief in America's history from the 1600s through the 1800s. Very accurate and surprisingly very objective. Sometimes when reading a book of this type it is preachy or has an agenda the authors are trying to sell you. I didn't feel that at all, and enjoyed the book very well. I This book was fascinating. If you're looking for a book with scary ghost stories, this isn't it, although I did get spooked with the retelling of the Bell Witch story. Instead this book is a historical view of paranormal belief in America's history from the 1600s through the 1800s. Very accurate and surprisingly very objective. Sometimes when reading a book of this type it is preachy or has an agenda the authors are trying to sell you. I didn't feel that at all, and enjoyed the book very well. I even learned some history I didn't know, that had nothing to do with the paranormal. This is a very grabbing read, I would find myself three or four hours into it, and not even notice the time.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Julie Douglas

    Just read some reviews of this book, and I wonder if the reviewers read the same book I'm reading. I think this one is very interesting and a fun read. Also don't get the sense that the authors believe everything they are writing about as some reviewers suggest. They seem to have a healthy dose of skepticism. I'm enjoying it. It's a good book for people who are curious about paranormal events in our history. I'll definitely delve into some of the stories more by reading other books, but this is Just read some reviews of this book, and I wonder if the reviewers read the same book I'm reading. I think this one is very interesting and a fun read. Also don't get the sense that the authors believe everything they are writing about as some reviewers suggest. They seem to have a healthy dose of skepticism. I'm enjoying it. It's a good book for people who are curious about paranormal events in our history. I'll definitely delve into some of the stories more by reading other books, but this is fun summer read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I got this book from the goodreads giveaway. It was a really interesting book. The first bit is a little slow, but once you move past the first couple of chapters, the rest of the book moves fairly quickly. Very interesting stories and information, I really enjoyed reading and learning throughout this book!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    An interesting read but not quite what I expected. It wasn't really about the haunting of America but about the history of spiritualism in America. I enjoyed learning about the different figures in American spiritualism but I'm not sure I would reccommend this book to anyone. An interesting read but not quite what I expected. It wasn't really about the haunting of America but about the history of spiritualism in America. I enjoyed learning about the different figures in American spiritualism but I'm not sure I would reccommend this book to anyone.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tricia Schneider

    I loved this book. A ton of interesting information about the history of the paranormal in America.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    Fun read. I learned a few things.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    A very very interesting read that went rather quickly. I especially like the last chapter that discussed Houdini & Sir Arthur C Doyle and the new movement of Spiritualism. A very good book

  20. 4 out of 5

    Angie (Literary Labors)

    A more appropriate title would have been "Spiritualism in America." A more appropriate title would have been "Spiritualism in America."

  21. 4 out of 5

    Linda Edmonds cerullo

    A less than comprehensive account of the history of the supernatural in the United States. Entire first chapter could certainly have been left out. The authors' extensive explanation of how the world began and the beginnings of various empires is completely unnecessary to the rest of this book. It was, essentially, a waste of time. The chapter on the Salem Witch Trials is interesting and mostly accurate (having read a number of books related to this tragedy), but the overlong narrative regarding A less than comprehensive account of the history of the supernatural in the United States. Entire first chapter could certainly have been left out. The authors' extensive explanation of how the world began and the beginnings of various empires is completely unnecessary to the rest of this book. It was, essentially, a waste of time. The chapter on the Salem Witch Trials is interesting and mostly accurate (having read a number of books related to this tragedy), but the overlong narrative regarding spiritualism is a bit much. It's obvious the authors are believers in visitations from the spirit world and do not feel that people like Mary Lincoln were terribly abused by fakes who convinced this poor woman that her husband was contacting her using things like photographic manipulation and other methods of conning her out of her money. The ending chapter on Houdini redeems them only slightly and frankly, could have been much longer as Houdini's life in itself is worthy of much greater detail. The exhaustive bibliography contains many books about various "supernatural" subjects in the United States that would have been worth including in this book, but sadly, they were not included. There were also more recent subjects that could have been included but weren't, despite the fact that this book was from the early 2000s. Do yourself a favor and visit any areas with "haunted" backgrounds and take a haunted or ghost tour. You will glean far more information than you would reading this rather lengthy, and at times, dull chronicle.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Well that was as misleading as a non-fiction book can get. I expected historian haunts and a bit of the paranormal spooky atmosphere. What I got was a barrel of monkey conspiracy theories that lead no where. I like a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy, but not when I came for Historical Haunts, especially with a title as 'The Haunting of America'. I made if through the first 5 pages of the first chapter before I realized there were no ghost stories or haunting and skipped right on to Well that was as misleading as a non-fiction book can get. I expected historian haunts and a bit of the paranormal spooky atmosphere. What I got was a barrel of monkey conspiracy theories that lead no where. I like a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy, but not when I came for Historical Haunts, especially with a title as 'The Haunting of America'. I made if through the first 5 pages of the first chapter before I realized there were no ghost stories or haunting and skipped right on to the Salem Witch Trials. Lucky for Joel, Salem is a personal fascination of mine, so I stuck around for that chapter. But after Salem, it just devolved into paranormal paranoia. I tried a few pages from other chapters to find more and more of the same. In the end, I just couldn't finish it. The writing style wasn't inviting and each chapter eventually becomes more and more ridiculous in the stretches the author has to go through to fit the paranormal claim.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dan Gorman

    I guess this book is nonfiction, but it tells you something when the intro is by the host of "Coast to Coast AM," the UFO show. The introduction talks about how our caveman ancestors may have had telepathy before spoken language, how ancient aliens visited the Earth, and how the world is filled with paranormal forces. The authors actually touch on most of the occult and supernatural incidents in the U.S., BUT they believe that pretty much all incidents of supernatural events are legitimate. Furt I guess this book is nonfiction, but it tells you something when the intro is by the host of "Coast to Coast AM," the UFO show. The introduction talks about how our caveman ancestors may have had telepathy before spoken language, how ancient aliens visited the Earth, and how the world is filled with paranormal forces. The authors actually touch on most of the occult and supernatural incidents in the U.S., BUT they believe that pretty much all incidents of supernatural events are legitimate. Furthermore, they omit contrary evidence, cite scholarly books and other sources sloppily, and portray most skeptical inquirers (e.g., Harry Houdini) as outright villains or prudes. Simply put, this book is bonkers. But it gave me a few ideas for my dissertation....

  24. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    Not at all what I expected: it’s mostly a disjointed history of spiritualism, not a categorical account of famous ghosts and haunting. Poorly put together—it’s all over the place, and the intro and Salem chapter have very little to do with the rest of the book. Even worse, it’s so obviously biased and has to desperately stretch truths and ignore numerous historical accounts in order to defend some of the mediums that it claims were likely legitimate, such as D.D. Home and Leonora Piper. Rather t Not at all what I expected: it’s mostly a disjointed history of spiritualism, not a categorical account of famous ghosts and haunting. Poorly put together—it’s all over the place, and the intro and Salem chapter have very little to do with the rest of the book. Even worse, it’s so obviously biased and has to desperately stretch truths and ignore numerous historical accounts in order to defend some of the mediums that it claims were likely legitimate, such as D.D. Home and Leonora Piper. Rather than make a compelling argument, it just comes off as naive and desperate to defend the existence of spirits through accounts that have been largely debunked. An interesting topic, but very poorly done.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer McMurrain

    I found quite a few chapters of this book fascinating, but others were just down right tedious to read. There was so much repetition, this book could have been 100 pages shorter, or had a 100 pages of additional information. It started out well, I even enjoyed the introduction, but then it spent forever on the Spiritual Movement ... I mean forever. At this point it became less about history and more about different mediums, who really didn't affect the history of the United States at all. So bas I found quite a few chapters of this book fascinating, but others were just down right tedious to read. There was so much repetition, this book could have been 100 pages shorter, or had a 100 pages of additional information. It started out well, I even enjoyed the introduction, but then it spent forever on the Spiritual Movement ... I mean forever. At this point it became less about history and more about different mediums, who really didn't affect the history of the United States at all. So basically I read through over 400 pages to get tidbits of interesting stories. I'm on the fence about reading the next one.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jenn

    This book really wasn’t what I thought it would be. Some parts were so boring I skipped right past them. There’s a lot of history in America , that’s evident. However this book could have been spiced up a bit. It read more like an instructional book to be used for a history paper rather than a book to capture ones attention in wanting to learn more about the history of America and everything that shaped it. I’ve tried many books on history as I’m a huge history buff however it seems that my inte This book really wasn’t what I thought it would be. Some parts were so boring I skipped right past them. There’s a lot of history in America , that’s evident. However this book could have been spiced up a bit. It read more like an instructional book to be used for a history paper rather than a book to capture ones attention in wanting to learn more about the history of America and everything that shaped it. I’ve tried many books on history as I’m a huge history buff however it seems that my interests are more in Ancient Civilizations rather than history of the US.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    1.5 stars, rounded up to 2 stars ("it was ok"), because Goodreads doesn't have a 1.5 star "meh" option I'm a person who likes when books are/do what they say they are/will on the cover and I really would've liked this book more if it had been presented accurately. The back blurb talks about "America's fascination with ghosts, goblins, and demons" but that is not what this is about. Instead it is almost entirely about spiritualism and mediumship, except for the prologue and the first chapter. The 1.5 stars, rounded up to 2 stars ("it was ok"), because Goodreads doesn't have a 1.5 star "meh" option I'm a person who likes when books are/do what they say they are/will on the cover and I really would've liked this book more if it had been presented accurately. The back blurb talks about "America's fascination with ghosts, goblins, and demons" but that is not what this is about. Instead it is almost entirely about spiritualism and mediumship, except for the prologue and the first chapter. The prologue was supposed to be an explanation of "New Age" (which should've been my first clue that this wouldn't be what I thought it was) and contains inaccuracies as well as far too many moments of "We're not saying it was aliens... but it was aliens" for me to take it seriously. I have no problem with the possibility of aliens existing or contacting Earth, but this was too much. The first chapter was a pretty standard chapter about the Salem Witch Hysteria and was mostly what I would expect. The rest of the book is largely mini-bios of mediums and the information about the influence spiritualism had on the United States of America (with a whole lot more time spent on England than I would've expected in a book titled "The Haunting of America"). I find spiritualism and the history of mediumship interesting, but I just couldn't get past certain issues. Other reviewers have mentioned incorrect citations and repetitiveness, but I put off by the tone the authors occasionally take. The tone made them seem hugely biased and they were largely dismissive of anyone they would call a "skeptic" (unless that person eventually "saw the light," if you will and converted at some point to their beliefs). An additional frustration was that I often couldn't tell if they had actual proof of certain events or a certain someone's motivations, or if they were just inflating their own beliefs into fact. The issues with citation just exacerbated this problem. I'm sure that some people who are devout believers in spiritualism or mediums will love this book, but it could have been so much more (and should have been presented as what it actually is) and thus I found it disappointing. If you're looking for a book that's actually about hauntings and "America's fascination with ghosts, goblins, and demons," this is not the book you want. This is a perfect example of not being able to accurately judge a book by its cover.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Liriel27

    I won this book through First Reads. So far, I have not been able to get past the introduction to this book, which is a 61-page primer on the ancient origins of the New Age movement (and which, the authors will pardon me, seems to have little to do with the presence of the supernatural in America, beyond attempting to convince people that the supernatural exists - without which belief, I doubt if they would even care this book existed, much less open it and slog through 61 pages of quasi-histori I won this book through First Reads. So far, I have not been able to get past the introduction to this book, which is a 61-page primer on the ancient origins of the New Age movement (and which, the authors will pardon me, seems to have little to do with the presence of the supernatural in America, beyond attempting to convince people that the supernatural exists - without which belief, I doubt if they would even care this book existed, much less open it and slog through 61 pages of quasi-historical drivel). I started reading this roughly concurrently with teaching my classes about logical fallacies, and if the introduction is any indication, the book is going to drive me to madness. It's nothing but appeal to ignorance - "We haven't found the missing link, so why not believe life was brought here by aliens!" "We can't be sure how the Sumerians knew everything they did, so it must be aliens!" "We don't know for sure how the pyramids were made, so let's just say it was with psychic powers!" "While we're at it, the Bible might have been written by aliens! Or maybe God. Or maybe some really bloody-minded prophets with a yen for codes. But probably aliens." I mean, I understand that the author came to this book with a certain, shall we say, bias (star and producer of UFO Hunters), but still. Don't write 61 PAGES of "No one really knows the truth, so here's a theory that fits into my worldview. If you don't agree, then you are 'obdurate skeptics and debunkers' (23). It's ok if I never really come to a conclusion about anything - it's all a MYSTERY!" *big distracting hand gesture* Please. I don't know if I can continue with this. And, just to be clear, I am not a partiularly skeptical or practical-minded person. The introduction feels self-indulgent, unnecessary, and, if you'll forgive the pun, alienating. *Update - I've read about half of it. I was right. It is driving me crazy. The bits that are actual history are good, but the conclusions drawn are sketchy, at best (Maybe the women in Salem deserved it - some of them really WERE witches! And Lincoln might have been psychic - except he averted any of the disasters he might have predicted except his own death! Mediums who admitted they were faking may not have been faking after all!). Gah.

  29. 4 out of 5

    M.A. Kropp

    I will admit that this was a rather slow read for me. Not because it is not a good read, but it is non-fiction, and rather textbook-ish, and that is always a bit slower for me to read. The book is written by William Birnes of UFO Hunters and Joel Marting, a paranormal investigator. They report on the alleged spiritualist and paranormal activity in America, starting at the Salem witch trials and going through the events of 9/11.  The book is divided into sections, each of which centers on a type o I will admit that this was a rather slow read for me. Not because it is not a good read, but it is non-fiction, and rather textbook-ish, and that is always a bit slower for me to read. The book is written by William Birnes of UFO Hunters and Joel Marting, a paranormal investigator. They report on the alleged spiritualist and paranormal activity in America, starting at the Salem witch trials and going through the events of 9/11.  The book is divided into sections, each of which centers on a type of spiritualism rather than a specific time period. The sections then follow a basic historical timeline, while exploring the prevelance and occurences of each type. It makes the narrative a bit easier to follow, as you are not trying to keep track of who is a spirit rapper, who had precognitive dreams, and the like. I thought that was a good way of organizing some rather interesting concepts without leaving a reader confused. The book basically treats the subject matters fairly. The authors did not limit their investigations to those whose paranormal activities could not be explained, and therefore who support their foundation theory that these event are real. There are plenty of examples of people like Margaret Fix, who was a renowned spirit rapper, until it was proved that she was simply cracking the joint of her big toe. They discuss many historical events and figures. There is a case made for the actual practice of black magic in the years before the Salem witch trials. George Washington's vision at Valley Forge is explored, as is Lincoln's fascination with spiritualism and his probable psychic abilities, including dreams of his own assassination. The book is clearly written, explanations are easily understood, and the authors approach the subject matter reasonably fairly. Anyone interested in the occult, the paranormal, and American history as it relates to those should check this book out.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kristy

    The premise was interesting enough, and it started off well with the story of the Salem witch trials. (Though I am ignoring the long, dense introduction that told the story of the supernatural through world history.) The beginning seemed well-researched and well-written, but it was all downhill from there. The writing became increasingly choppy, poorly edited, and extremely subjective ('clearly she was a gifted psychic' - really?). While I learned some interesting things about the rise and fall The premise was interesting enough, and it started off well with the story of the Salem witch trials. (Though I am ignoring the long, dense introduction that told the story of the supernatural through world history.) The beginning seemed well-researched and well-written, but it was all downhill from there. The writing became increasingly choppy, poorly edited, and extremely subjective ('clearly she was a gifted psychic' - really?). While I learned some interesting things about the rise and fall of Americans' interest in the supernatural, I began to seriously question the accuracy of the authors' version of events.

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