Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Book Review: The Ghosts of Chicago: The Windy City's Most Famous Haunts
Author: Adam Selzer
From Resurrection Mary and Al Capone to the Murder Castle of H. H. Holmes and the funeral train of Abraham Lincoln, the spine-tingling sights and sounds of Chicago's yesteryear are still with us . . . and so are its ghosts.
Seeking to find out what we really know about the ghastly past of this famously haunted metropolis, professional ghost hunter and historian Adam Selzer pieces together the truth behind Chicago's ghosts, and brings to light never-before-told first accounts. Take a history tour like no other of the famous and not-so-famous haunts around town. Sometimes the real story is far different from the urban legend--and most of the time it's even gorier.
I saw this book on Bibliosaurus Text, and knew I absolutely had to read it. I read these true ghost story books a lot, ever since I was a kid and would scare the hell out of myself with the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series. (Which by the way, is still scaring kids all these years later.)
Selzer takes us on a journey through Chicago, stop by stop, and the stories are told in such a way that I feel like I am walking through the neighborhoods and streets of Chicago with Selzer on his tour. The beginning of each legend or tale begins with the area the story is in, including the cross streets, so that a reader who aspires to be a ghost hunter can check the area out for themselves. Selzer includes what you can do and where you can go at the end of each chapter, and considerately leaves out details if there are privacy issues, so that these wanna be ghost hunters do not disturb private residences.
I loved the legend of Resurrection Mary. It is the legend of the ghostly passenger ; I think this a story everyone is familiar with, and seems to be in every city and everywhere. A driver will pick up a hitchiker, and then as they pass a graveyard, the passenger mysteriously disappears. Chicago has its own ghostly passenger, known as Resurrection Mary, which stretches back all the way to the 1930s, when the first story was told. That is another thing I loved about this book - all the historical research that Selzer put into the stories. Some of the evidence he unearthed goes all the back to the 1800s, including a vampire scare in the late 1800s!
This book made me realize I know practically nothing about Chicago's history. I know about the Haymarket Square Riot, the great Chicago Fire, the mob connections, and thanks to Devil in the White City, I know a little bit about the World's Fair and the killer H.H.Holmes. Selzer's book taught me about the Iroquois Theater Fire, about Abraham Lincoln's funeral train and that Lincoln had to be re-embalmed numerous times along the way, and the Eastland disaster, which I had never even heard about, among other events.
This book was interesting for the supernatural histories, and for the actual history of the city. I want to go back to Chicago now, to see where some of these histories and legends occurred. I also of course want to take Selzer's tour. I think next time I visit, I will. Maybe I will see a ghost...