Raymond Buckland,
The Weiser Field Guide to Ghosts:
Apparitions, Spirits, Spectral Lights & Other Hauntings of History & Legend

(Red Wheel/Weiser, 2009)

On page 89 of The Weiser Field Guide to Ghosts, author Raymond Buckland discusses ghost vehicles -- buses, trucks, carriages and other forms of conveyance that have allegedly appeared in spectral form. To substantiate the stories, he includes a photograph of an actual truck.

I had high hopes for this pocket-sized volume, which looks like the sort of thing one might take along on a real ghost-hunting expedition. The fact that Buckland, a top name in things occult, had written it only increased my expectations.

But the reality is far more disappointing. The text seems drawn from a scattered collection of notes, never gelling into a useful guide for believers or a persuasive argument for skeptics.

In seemingly random fashion, the book lists various types of ghosts, from ancestral to battlefield, animal to guardian, prophetic to celebrity (although Lucille Ball did not die in 1969, Ray). There are sometimes a few examples -- ancestral ghosts, for instance, have only two types listed: Japanese and Egyptian. There are brief ghost stories, although they are briefly and dully presented. And, I suppose because he didn't have enough notes compiled to fill a book with ghosts, Buckland devotes a lot of attention to anything he can think of that isn't a ghost, such as vampires, zombies, fairies and demons. Perhaps if he'd looked ahead in the upcoming Weiser Field Guide catalogue, he'd have seen those beasties were getting books of their own and didn't need to take space away from the focus of this book, which is ghosts.

Although this is promoted as a "field guide," the book basically just lists types of ghosts and gives a few examples of each. It doesn't provide hints for seeing a ghost or anything useful like that, and as an afterthought, it tags a mere 10 pages on the end discussing equipment used by ghost hunters.

The one thing I didn't expect when I picked up this book was that it would be boring. That's a real shame.

[ visit the author's website ]

book review by
Tom Knapp

23 October 2010

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new