Book Review - Poltergeists, By Alan Gauld and A. D. Cornell

Good evening ladies and gentlemen! Welcome yet again to my monthly book review – this month, I’ll be discussing Poltergeists, by Alan Gauld and A. D. Cornell.

First published in 1979, this book is large-and-by considered one of the classics of poltergeist research, and for obvious reasons. Not only does the appendix to Part One list 500 different poltergeist cases, spanning 530 CE to 1975, but woven throughout the meticulously detailed accounts is extensive discussion on the possible machinations of poltergeist activity.

However, while this book is an incredibly comprehensive look at various cases of poltergeist phenomena spanning centuries, there’s also some truly worthwhile discussion on hauntings and their possible relation to poltergeist phenomena. Also, of immense worth are the tables included in Chapter 12: Poltergeists and the Computer, which concern 500 cases (not the exact same 500 included in the appendix) of poltergeist phenomena and concisely delineate their various aspects.

Throughout this tome, various beliefs regarding poltergeist, and even general paranormal, phenomena are discussed without ever being used to explain away the occurrences. Probably most exciting to me is the discussion on the beliefs surrounding poltergeist phenomena, and the potential for those beliefs not just to affect the experience of the witness, but the nature of the anomaly itself. To this effect, here is possibly my favorite quote, located in Chapter 9:n Poltergeists and Daemons:

“Such intelligences are equally ready to represent themselves as angels, devils, or deceased persons; no doubt one will eventually arise which claims to come from a flying saucer.”

Poltergeists is available here: