Beth Cooper,
Ghosts of Kansas
(Schiffer, 2010)

As the title suggests, Ghosts of Kansas is a collection of ghost stories from the state of Kansas. The author, Beth Cooper, co-owns Ghost Tours of Kansas, a company that provides tours across the state of Kansas, with emphasis on locations that are reportedly haunted.

The book is very straightforward as it gives you a tour of the state, presenting ghost stories for each area. It is very well-organized, going city by city. For each city, it goes location by location. For each story, it describes the location, the history and the reported incidents. For many of the stories, there are black-and-white contemporary photographs. There are a few historical photographs as well.

For each building or location, Cooper describes any traumatic events that occurred there as in murders, tragic accidents, illicit/illegal activities or mysterious deaths. Also, the current function of each site is described even if it has nothing to do with its reputation as being haunted.

Besides the fact that the book is very well organized, the stories are told in a very matter-of-fact manner. I always felt like the stories were there to entertain me and for me to decide what I do and do not believe. I have read books about ghosts before where the author was clearly a believer, and the whole book appeared to be an attempt to convert readers to become believers in ghosts. I never felt, with this book, that my arm was being twisted. I felt very free to believe the stories, laugh at them or just mentally say, "Oh, that was interesting."

The writing was clear and crisp without a lot of jargon related to ghosts. (I feel jargon only belongs in books designed for readers in that particular field who are professionals or specialists or avid enthusiasts. I am none of those.) Ghosts of Kansas appeared to be aimed at anyone who cared to read it.

I have read books in many fields written by either professionals or avid enthusiasts where the author clearly knew what he or she wanted to say but did not present it in a coherent, organized manner. This book was written by an author who knew what she wanted to say and she presented it in a very intelligible and unpretentious manner.

book review by
Chris McCallister

19 May 2012

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