Friday Review: The Haunting of America by William J. Birnes and Joel Martin

The Haunting of America: From the Salem Witch Trials to Harry HoudiniThe Haunting of America: From the Salem Witch Trials to Harry Houdini by Joel Martin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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.

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