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American Ghost [Large Print]
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In this spellbinding exploration of myth, family history, and the American West, the award-winning journalist and author of The Beekeeper's Lament seeks to uncover the truth about her great-great-grandmother Julia--whose ghost is said to haunt an elegant hotel in Santa Fe.The dark-eyed woman first appeared in the 1970s, standing near a fireplace in a long black gown. She was sad and translucent, present and absent at once. Strange things began to happen in the Santa Fe hotel where she was seen. Gas fireplaces turned off and on without anyone touching a switch. Vases of flowers appeared in new locations. Glasses flew from shelves. And in one second-floor suite with a canopy bed and arched windows looking out to the mountains, guests reported alarming events: blankets ripped off while they slept, the room temperature plummeting, disembodied breathing, dancing balls of light.La Posada--"place of rest"--had been a grand Santa Fe home before it was converted to a hotel. The room with the canopy bed had belonged to Julia Schuster Staab, the wife of the home's original owner. She died in 1896, nearly a century before the hauntings were first reported. In American Ghost, Hannah Nordhaus traces the life, death, and unsettled afterlife of her great-great-grandmother Julia and her family, from Julia's childhood in Germany to her years in the American West with her Jewish merchant husband, to the spas and seance rooms of the late nineteenth century, to World War II and beyond. In her search to find and understand her troubled ancestor, Nordhaus travels across America and Europe, and unearths family diaries, photographs, and newspaper clippings; meets with historians, genealogists, psychics, and ghost hunters; and learns along the way some unexpected lessons about living.American Ghost is a touching journey of roots and memory, a story of pioneer women and immigrants, villains and visionaries, frontier fortitude and mental illness, imagination and lore. As she follows the strands of Julia's life, Nordhaus discovers a larger tale of how a true-life story becomes a ghost story--and how difficult it can be to separate history from myth.
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"I don't believe in ghosts, but I believe in the beautiful literary afterlife Hannah Nordhaus has given her great-great-grandmother. "American Ghost" is a perfect blend of compassionate empathy, hardheaded journalism, and lucid writing."--Mary Doria Russell, author of "The Sparrow, Doc," and "Epitaph" "Part travelogue, part memoir, part ghost story, part history. . . . Nordhaus offers a deeply compelling personal account of her attempts to better understand her own family. . . . The book's unique blend of genres and its excellent writing make it hard to put down."--"Booklist" (starred review) "Tenaciously researched and beautifully written, "American Ghost" gives flesh to a lost story, exhumes a bygone world, and animates the ways in which the past haunts all of us. Hannah Nordhaus has performed a lyrical feat of dead-raising."--Benjamin Wallace, author of "The Billionaire's Vinegar" ""American Ghost" is at once an engrossing portrait of a forgotten female pioneer and a fascinating meditation on the fine line between history and lore. Hannah Nordhaus has crafted a seamless blend of gripping mystery, moving family confessional, and chilling ghost story."--Karen Abbott, "New York Times" bestselling author of "Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy" "A thoughtful and intriguing chronicle of familial investigation."--"Kirkus Reviews" "Hannah Nordhaus approaches the legend of her great-great-grandmother's ghost with the insight of an historian and the energy of an inspired detective. A fine tale well told. I loved every word."--Anne Hillerman, author of "Spider Woman's Daughter" "A unique collision of family history, Wild West adventure, and ghost story. . . . Perceptive, witty, and engaging."--"Publishers Weekly" (starred review) "Here is a very different sort of a Western, a deeply feminine story with a strong whiff of the paranormal--Willa Cather meets Stephen King. Don't read this book late at night . . . unless you like feeling your neck hairs stand up on end!"--Hampton Sides, author of "In the Kingdom of Ice" and "Blood and Thunder" "The author's multifaceted work brings Julia back to life and explores the journey it took to rediscover her narrative. . . . Every aspect of the account is enlightening, well written, and entertaining. This touching and uplifting work is highly recommended and will appeal to a variety of readers."--"Library Journal" (starred review) "A fascinating and nuanced account of her ancestral ghost story and her complicated clan."--BookPage "Journalist Hannah Nordhaus braids personal memoir with historical research and resolute ghost hunting in a narrative that investigates the restless spirit of her great-great-grandmother Julia Schuster Staab."--"Boston Globe" "Beautifully written and self-aware, a memoir that tells a story and searches for broader lessons. . . . Ultimately, "American Ghost" is not just the story of a haunting, but a story that will haunt its readers."--"Minneapolis Star Tribune" "Expertly dissects fact from embroidery. . . . A colorful and engrossing quest."--"Elle," "7 Must-Read Books" "Who doesn't love a good ghost story? "American Ghost" is itself a haunting story about the long reach of the past."--Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air "Intriguing."--"People" "Fascinating and frequently surprising. Ultimately, "American Ghost" is a reflection on how the unresolved questions in our own histories can be even more haunting than ghosts."--"Shelf Awareness" "Nordhaus attacks her subject with the same scholarship and lively writing that made her nonfiction debut, "The Beekeeper's Lament," a beloved best-seller. . . . Fascinating."--"Dallas Morning News" "[A] funny, moving, and suspenseful tale."--"The Week" "A gripping account of frontier life from an immigrant Jewish woman's perspective. It is the author's connection of the past where she explores the story, trying to separate the history and the myth."--"Working Mother"

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