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Books by the Blogger:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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I've decided to stop accepting review copies. The downside of getting buried in free books is that reading increasingly becomes an obligatory act. After some seven years of blogging books, it's time for me to return to the simple pleasure of reading only the books I want to read, when I want to read them.



  
From a random review:

  

« It's BAFAB Week! And CONTESTS! And TWITTER! | Main | Olson, Karen E.: Secondhand Smoke »

Storr, Will: Will Storr vs. the Supernatural

  

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Harper © 2006, 336 pages [amazon]
4 stars

Journalist Will Storr wrote a piece for Loaded magazine about his experiences tagging along with a demonologist on a couple of errands--recording electronic voice phenomena (EVPs) in an allegedly haunted house in Baltimore, meeting with a suburban mother in New Jersey who is a habitual Ouija board user and may be possessed. Storr entered the project a skeptic, but he couldn't rationalize away everything he witnessed with the demon investigator. Will Storr vs. The Supernatural is the result of his decision to pursue the paranormal further. Storr's original article appears as the book's prologue. In subsequent chapters Storr details his further experiences: meetings with various groups of paranormal enthusiasts (such as the Scooby Doo-ishly named "Ghost Club"), a walk in the woods with a Druid, the few minutes he managed to stay in the most haunted room of Britain's most haunted house, an interview with a woman who, in her youth, was the central figure in a celebrated case of possession, an afternoon spent with the Vatican's chief exorcist. The stories Storr has to tell are at the least interesting. One, about an English pub said to be haunted by its former landlady, is downright chilling. And Storr's account in his last chapter of an alleged case of possession in Texas is horrifying--not because demons are on the loose but, alas, because humans are.

[INSET TEXT: And Storr's account in his last chapter of an alleged case of possession in Texas is horrifying--not because demons are on the loose but, alas, because humans are.] Happily, Storr never fully surrenders his skepticism. He isn't afraid to express doubts about the claims some of his interviewees make, if not in person then at least on the page, if not in bold type then subtly:

"'Hang on, he says, pausing with his duster and his can, 'I can hear sounds, like wooshing sounds.' His ear is cocked skywards. 'It's almost like windy conditions, even though it's not windy outside. Can you hear it?'

'Yes,' I say. 'Is it an aeroplane?'

'No, I don't think so,' he says. 'I heard it last night as well.'

We listen in silence as the aeroplane goes past."

Mostly, as in his report from the set of Britain's television series Most Haunted, Storr reports honestly on what he's observed and lets readers draw their own conclusions. He also considers possible scientific explanations for the ghostly phenomena he and others have observed, though in the end he finds that science in its current state cannot explain everything he's experienced. A fallen Catholic, he emerges from his research convinced that there is at least some kind of an afterlife awaiting us.

Storr's narrative is punctuated with some very nice bits of writing:

"I glance to my left through the window. There have been blizzards all down the eastern seaboard for the last three days. Fat whacks of snow cover the ground everywhere except the freeway. I pause for a second to watch the cars and trucks and monstrous articulated lorries bomb noisily through the night, all exhaust-steam and slipstream and white lights and red. And as I sit and look at the traffic, somewhere deep in my brain, a tiny alarm starts to sound. At this moment, I'm still barely aware of it. But I've just begun to sense that something isn't right."

Note that long fourth sentence in the example above, the repetition of the coordinating conjunction "and" slowing the reader after three short sentences in a row, the dactyls and rhyme after the comma. It's a sentence that begs to be reread.

Will Storr vs. The Supernatural is worth the read, because its subject matter is interesting and because Storr does a good job with it. Skeptics won't find his exploration of the paranormal convincing, I'm sure, but they should find it well-written, and possibly thought-provoking. I would only suggest that the author include in subsequent editions an index and some kind of documentation of sources and locations.

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Book-blog.com reviews by Debra Hamel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Comments

1.

Noticed that you posted about Sam Harris' book 'Letter to a Christian Nation' a little while ago. Just thought I'd let you know about the latest response by Douglas Wilson which getting great reviews with more to come. You can read more about it here: http://www.letterfromachristiancitizen.com/




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About the blogger: Debra is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece, including Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  






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Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.