Christopher E. Wolf,
Haunted Highways & Ghostly Travelers
(Schiffer, 2011)

Few things beat a good ghost story. They are archetypal, touching something deep within us. We need to hear these stories, let them resonate, play with the possibilities so that we can ask ourselves if it really happened and get that delightful little chill.

In Haunted Highways & Ghostly Travelers, Christopher Wolf takes us on the road, offering tales about haunted roads and railroads, cars and ships, bridges and and airplanes, even hitchhiking ghosts and a category he labels Too Strange To Classify, in which he recycles once again the Bermuda Triangle story. Many of the stories are entertaining, but many are also overly familiar -- the aforementioned Bermuda Triangle and the hitchhiking ghost, for example.

Haunted highways is an entertaining book but it contains a couple of major flaws that diminish its value. For one thing, Wolf does not attest to the truth of his stories. In his introduction, he states, "I wanted to give you, the reader, a broad overview of the many types of spirits that exist or are reported to have made their presence known (emphasis added) across the globe." Are reported to have made their presence known? Reported by whom? Under what circumstances? Subjected to what forms of verification? We don't know. How seriously can we take these claims, especially when in another section of his text, Wolf says that in this type of book, his main interest is in telling a good story.

In this type of book, however, readers expect the author to do his very best to verify the claims he is making and to offer proof for them. Wolf doesn't do this. His favorite form of research for this material is the ghost tours sponsored by commercial firms in the places he visits. Ghost tours can be a lot of fun and they can create an atmosphere of spookiness but are they reliable?

Haunted Highway & Ghostly Travelers will entertain you but it won't shed any light on the paranormal.

book review by
Michael Scott Cain

28 January 2012

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