A Paranormal Library – Ghosts of War

New Page Books, 2006

I would like to preface my review by stating that I have purchased all the books I review for the public.  I am in no way being paid for my reviews, but I am sharing my favorite paranormal books for your reading pleasure.  The opinions expressed in these books do not always reflect my own personal opinion, but I do find these topics fascinating.  Your purchases of these books do not monetarily benefit me, nor do I gain points with your readership or purchase.  I am sure, however, that the authors do enjoy your patronage.  Happy reading Dreamers!

This disclaimer is in reference of my use of the word “paranormal.”  My use of the word “paranormal” refers to anything that is not normal, be it ghosts, conspiracy theories or aliens.  If the topic is not part of conventional beliefs, then it is paranormal.  So please do not bombard me with comments about how something is or is not paranormal.

Ghosts of War: Restless Spirits of Soldiers, Spies, and Saboteurs by Jeff Belanger

Jeff Belanger is a lecturer on the paranormal, with features all over the United States.  He has also been a guest on numerous radio and TV shows, including Coast to Coast AM and The History Channel’s Haunted History.  He has several lectures this month located in Chicago, Austin, and several cities in Massachusetts.  He currently resides in Massachusetts.

I didn’t disappoint, here’s another book by the extraordinary Jeff Belanger!  I really do enjoy his books, and there are more that I have purchased recently because of his writing style and his attention to research.  As a History Major in college, this book really hits close to home with great information and really great storytelling.  I sure hope you all are excited about this book as I am!

This book was highly entertaining and very informative on different wars and their ghosts.  Jeff did AMAZING research regarding the information in this book, and set the wars chronologically, starting from 1180 CE.  He even included wars I never even knew existed, such as the Gompei War in Japan and the Black Hills War in Montana. Which I found out, was the war that contained The Battle of Little Bighorn.  I also was surprised that Jeff included more recent wars, such as the Bosnian War in the early 1990’s.  Each war is separated into a specific time period, and the battles are set in chronological order.  Like usual, the Civil War had more entries than World War II, and the book was a more US-centric than I was hoping for. I was half way expecting to see obscure wars that not very many people have heard of with scary ghost stories, but I do understand that in order to sell this book; you would have to include the American Revolutionary War and the Civil War.

As a History Teacher, I look for information that would be “entertaining” to the students in my class.  Sometimes using ghost stories keeps their attention, although, I usually phrase the ghost story as “Some believe,” “Legend has it,” or “Supposedly,” while giving the history lesson.  Surprisingly this system works, and I appreciate Jeff for giving such great ideas for a history lesson.  My students really do enjoy the occasional ghost story added in to the usual lecture, and I really only use these stories in times of great boredom. You know, when all the eyes staring at me are blank, glossed over and you could tell their minds have left their head, the stories usually pick them right back up, and they find interest in history again. I use this sparingly, and I add more useless information, tidbits of funny factoids, more than the ghost stories, but Jeff Belanger really does help me keep interest with my students.

Again, this is a very well researched book, separating the information on the War/Battle into what day(s) fought, participants, and casualty count.  Before Jeff ever gets to writing about ghosts, you hear about how different structures were built, how the war started (not too in-depth), and the outcome of the specific battle in which the ghost stories were said to have happened.  Then he gets into the nitty-gritty of the ghost stories which are about 20% of the overall passage.  But that is what a good storyteller and historian does, use the interest of ghosts to give an overall history lesson, which is why I really do love Jeff Belanger.  He disguises learning into a great story.

Akama-jingu shrine, Shimonoseki, Japan, 2006

via flickr asiabytes

For example, the story of Dan-no-Ura was told historically through lute-playing bards, like wandering minstrels in Medieval Europe.  The location is said to be haunted by the ghost of the last emperor of the Taira clan, who happened to be a child, his family and the samurai who tried to protect the child-emperor.  The war started as a result of revenge between the Taira clan and the Minamoto clan after the clan leader of the Taira clan had executed the leader of the Minamoto clan and sent the Minamoto sons home.  Those sons began this Hatfield and McCoy feud that escalated to the death of Taira Antoku, the boy-emperor of the clan.  The stranger part of this war is the fact that all those people who died in the Taira clan were all drowned in a naval battle at the site of Dan-no-Ura.  Also at the site is a cemetery and Temple, Akama-jingu Temple, a site that is revered by the Japanese people.  I won’t divulge much about what happens at Dan-no-Ura, but just the history itself was fascinating and far stranger than the ghosts.  You can visit the temple in Japan as we speak, but I am not sure of the state of the temple after the Earthquake and Tsunami in March.

If you need a book for Spooky stories, this is not one of them, but they are highly educational and entertaining.  I really do love Jeff Belanger, and I hope you Dreamers will soon appreciate his writing style as I do.


Barnes and Noble



Jeff Belanger’s Site


About theoracleofdreams
The Oracle of Dreams is a High School teacher, who spends a great deal of time outside of school watching movies, listening to music, and various other artistic ventures. The Oracle of Dreams is a pseudonym for reasons beyond her knowledge, and wishes to keep her identity secret...or until she makes big bucks and can leave the teaching field...one can always dream bigger right?

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