Read The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, Photography, and the Man Who Captured Lincoln's Ghost Online Free - A story of faith and fraud in post–Civil War America, told through the lens of a photographer who claimed he could capture images of the dead
In the early days of photography, in the death-strewn wake of the Civil War, one man seized America’s imagination. A “spirit photographer,” William Mumler took portrait photographs that featured the ghostly presence of a lost loved one alongside the living subject. Mumler was a sensation: The affluent and influential came calling, including Mary Todd Lincoln, who arrived at his studio in disguise amidst rumors of séances in the White House.
Peter Manseau brilliantly captures a nation wracked with grief and hungry for proof of the existence of ghosts and for contact with their dead husbands and sons. It took a circus-like trial of Mumler on fraud charges, starring P. T. Barnum for the prosecution, to expose a fault line of doubt and manipulation. And even then, the judge sided with the defense—nobody ever solved the mystery of his spirit photography. This forgotten puzzle offers a vivid snapshot of America at a crossroads in its history, a nation in thrall to new technology while clinging desperately to belief.
|Title||:||The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, Photography, and the Man Who Captured Lincoln's Ghost|
|Number of Pages||:||352 pages|
December 02, 2017
This turned out to be rather different from what I expected, but I found it interesting. The subtitle, “A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, and the Man Who Captured Lincoln's Ghost,” suggests that the book is about William Mumler and his spirit photography, and that is, indeed, the spine that runs through...
October 18, 2017
A fascinating examination of the curious intersection of Civil War grief, Spiritualism, and photographer technology. I interviewed Peter Manseau about his book here at The Washington Post:
November 27, 2017
I will be truthful. I did not read this book cover to cover. I pretty much picked and chose what chapters that I wanted to read. I was really ready for a non-fiction book and tried this one, but it was not what I was looking for.
This book has a number of pictures in it. Mostly pictures t...
January 20, 2018
First, it's a mess as far as scope & organization. There were a few times I thought about quitting it, but then plugged on hoping that later chapters would tie things together more, or narrow the focus, or coalesce the topic by the end. It kind-of, sort-of did by the final couple of chapters,...
January 15, 2018
January 08, 2018
Unfortunately, Mumler comes across as spectral, like his spirit apparitions. He meanders through the background of this disjointed book which is truly about the better known pioneering photographers of the northeastern U.S. and their competitiveness. Interesting, but very thin regarding the suppo...
November 09, 2017
Intensely researched and in good, piecemeal sections. I blanked out during some passages because I was thrown off by the organization—felt that at times the story jumped back and forth in time. Still interesting, tho, if you’re into culty wack historical stuff (or photography).
December 12, 2017
In this absorbing history, part ghost story and part true-crime, Manseau revives the 19th-century spirit portraitist William Mumler. A contemporary of legendary Civil War photographer Matthew Brady, Mumler built his reputation by taking pictures that, when developed, showed pale figures identifie...
January 11, 2018
This very factual book is a delight to read. I have never realized how incredible invention was a photography. Let me quote: "As a man who had endured such a great and sudden loss, Samuel Morse saw immediately the potential of the daguerotype as a means of holding fast to cherished faces lost and...
December 09, 2017
The Apparitionists is very interesting, and written in an engaging manner. However, it seemed to lack a sense of cohesion, and for a book that is supposed to be about Mumler, spends very little time actually talking about him, hazarding a guess at how his Spirit Photography might have worked, or...