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Publisher's Summary

Peter Aykroyd spent his childhood watching his family’s parlor séances through the crack of a basement door. Here, for the first time, Aykroyd tells the strange and delightful story that inspired his son, Dan, to make the mega-hit Ghostbusters.

Part history, part family legend, A History of Ghosts starts in 1848 in upstate New York, where the spiritualist craze first began. Aykroyd introduces the listener to notable mediums while telling the story of the development of spiritualism, interweaving a personal history marked by a fascination with ghosts and spirits with the larger narrative about the role the paranormal has played in our culture. Such legendary figures as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini appear - and vanish.

Everyone loves a good ghost story. Successful TV shows such as Medium and Ghost Hunters are proof that our national obsession with ghosts is here to stay. Millions of Americans believe in the paranormal—and even skeptics have heard a bump in the night and suspected it might be something supernatural.

©2009 Peter H. Aykroyd (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Less a Ghostbusters also-ran than a knowing, historical origin story, this is a smart consideration of the paranormal and a curious artifact of the Aykroyd legacy." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.3 out of 5.0
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  • Kimberly
  • Cambridge, MA, United States
  • 03-17-10

Mediocre

I'm not sure what I expected from this book. I love Ghostbusters and Ghost Hunters, so I thought this would be an interesting book. I also found it interesting that the Aykroyd family had a history with ghosts.

I think a history of human interest in the paranormal would have been very interesting in its own right. I also think a detailed history of the Aykroyd family's experiences with the paranormal would have been quite interesting.

This book attempts to do both, and the result is a vague overview of the paranormal. The author tells us of mediums through the course of history, only to later say that they were eventually debunked as frauds. He even admits that it would have been simple for even his own family's encounters with mediums and ghosts to have been fraudulent. It left me constantly wondering: So...do you think this stuff is real or not?

I suppose if the book would have had a clear thread, or point of view, it would have been helpful. I couldn't decide if our narrator was a true believer, or a solid skeptic, even though he says several times that he believes.

Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if it had been two novels with a more focused purpose. I can't really blame the narrator, Jeremy Gage, for how dry the material is. Though he didn't help the novel very much with his dull reading style.

Overall, it was only very mildly entertaining. I could have spent the credit better on another novel.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Boring

What would have made A History of Ghosts better?

Maybe comparison of past and present processes.

What do you think your next listen will be?

Don't Know.

What three words best describe Jeremy Gage and Dan Aykroyd ’s performance?

Ok

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment.

Any additional comments?

Reading someone's diary was boring.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

OK book, not really what I expected.

Pretty much more of a book about seances and the history of the modern interest in the paranormal. Not much about ghosts and really, I think it only mentions 'ghostbusters' a scant few times. For those with an interest in the paranormal it isn't a bad listen, but be ready to learn more about what happened at seances rather than experiences with paranormal activity. Kind of boring in some parts.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Intersting history of the Seance movement

I didn't care that Dan didn't read the entire book, like some other reviewers did. I felt that Jeremy Gage did an adequate job. The Aykroyd family history with mediums was interesting. It was nice to know that the author was working from direct experience with the subject. Plus, the author did a good job of establishing his comfort with the material. The author goes into detail on the mediums and how the whole movement escalated.

This book is a good history of the medium movement from someone who was there. I think this book treats the material very objectively and it's worth a read.

My only complaint with it is that this book does get boring in some parts.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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lacking a little

Honestly I was hoping for a little more in the ghost story genre. The history was well and good but it lacked excitement.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A History of Ghosts

I'm a fan of Dan Aykroyd but this was a terrible,terrible book. It couldn't hold my interest for even one chapter. I tried several times to listen to it. I even bought the hard copy of the book but still couldn't read it. It was just the most boring book ever written.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Wow, The Audible clip is deceptive.

What would have made A History of Ghosts better?

Cut down on all the interruptions with notes and explanations. The book is almost impossible to follow because of these in depth side bars.

Has A History of Ghosts turned you off from other books in this genre?

No, just because this one is poorly written doesn't mean they all are.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

That did tick me off. The clip played by Audible, the introduction, was narrated by Dan Aykroyd, who has an interesting and entertaining voice. That is the only part he narrates. The narrator for the rest is dull.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from A History of Ghosts?

I'd either cut the notes and sidebars or integrate them into the book so it isn't a constant, and I do mean constant, jumping back and forth. Sometimes only a sentence or two goes by before the topic switches for a line or two then flips back.

Any additional comments?

It's a shame, this could have been an interesting family history worth sharing with the world.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Read like a text book on Spiritualism

I would have liked more anecdotal material than this. It read like a text book and was very dry.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Bait and switch

I felt betrayed by the sample read by Dan Aykroyd. If you think this book will be read by Dan, you are as wrong as I was. Dan only read the introduction, while the entire book was read by Jeremy Gage.

9 of 15 people found this review helpful

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Surprisingly Disappointing

What disappointed you about A History of Ghosts?

The narrator was probably supposed to sound professorial and knowledgeable but that doesn't make him interesting. Not enough variation in the reading. Way too easy to fall asleep!!

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