Sunday, October 10, 2010

Review of new book: Haunted Natchez, by Alan Brown

Meridian, Mississippi writer Dr. Alan Brown's latest work of supposedly haunted sites - just released in September - focuses on our own hometown of Natchez. It is entitled Haunted Natchez and is published by Haunted America, a division of The History Press, Charleston, SC (copyright 2010; ISBN 978.1.59629.928.3). Dr. Brown is a Professor of English at the University of Western Alabama, and is a prolific writer on ghost hunters and haunted sites, mainly focusing upon sites and states of the Deep South. He has published numerous books, such as Haunted Georgia, Haunted Kentucky, Haunted Tennessee, Haunted South Carolina, Ghost Hunters of New England, Ghost Hunters of the South, and Haunted Places in the American South. He also has written a book entitled Haunted Vicksburg.

In Haunted Natchez, Dr. Brown summarizes locations in and around Natchez, including well-known sites such as King's Tavern, the Old Adams County Jail, Monmouth, the Eola Hotel, and the Old Bank & Trust building on Franklin Street, but also lesser publicized sites as well, such as the Devil's Punchbowl, Springfield and The Towers.

As far as the book itself goes, the stories Dr. Brown tell are summaries, not in-depth and deeply detailed accounts of the alleged hauntings that are occurring at each site. As such, it has limited value for those of us who do extremely in-depth paranormal and parapsychological investigations. For example, the book is a small one to begin with (just 5" x 7" and only 119 pages), and the entire story of Glenburnie and the Goat Castle murder and subsequent supposed sightings of Octavia Dockery only cover basically five short pages. Therefore, the book is really meant, I think, to be an interesting read by tourists and people just wanting a cursory glimpse into all of these haunted sites. Having said that however, the book does have value for those of us in the investigative field, due to the fact that it legitimizes and verifies the fact of what many of us locals already know - that Natchez is in the heart of a rich area of parapsychological phenomena, located as we are between Vicksburg and the Myrtles - one of the top ten most haunted sites in America. Dr. Brown also cites his sources and also lists some very useful websites, which is an additional source of value that can be explored and tapped. So, don't expect an in-depth look at any of these sites, but enjoy the reading as what it is meant to be, a summarized glimpse into many haunted (or not so haunted) locations in and around Natchez.  It is a tribute to our rich haunted house tradition that someone such as Dr. Brown, who writes of the most haunted sites in the South, would choose to write about Natchez. 

I definitely recommend this work be added to any one's library who studies and investigates sites in this area, and definitely plan to add several more of his small books to my own library resources. Good job Dr. Brown! [We recommend this book be purchased locally at Turning Pages bookstore - they have it in stock]

Natchez Ghosts: The Devil's Punchbowl is the official blog of N.A.P.S. - the Natchez Area Paranormal Society

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