Publication Date: September 1, 2004
Hans Holzer is a best-selling author of works on the subject of ghosts, the afterlife, witchcraft and other paranormal phenomena. In Ghosts: True Encounters with the World Beyond by Hans Holzer, a 761-page, a 3-lb tome the author shares his 50+ years of paranormal research with readers. From helping children to sharing experiences with the famous paranormal Warrens to bringing a young Regis Philbin along on a case — Holzer shows us how he helped countless spirits trapped in the mortal world to eternal peace.
Hans Holzer was vain, petty, and an extremely formulaic writer with a flair for the overly dramatic and he was awesome. Arranged in an anecdotal style, this truly massive read is perhaps one of most engaging “true” ghost story compilations I’ve ever read. The stories are not especially scary and none are especially detailed and many include Holzer’s patented grandstanding. The author is a shameless name-dropper noting invitation to this media outlet or that celebrity to join him on a local investigation and how they declined due to fear of his awesome power. It was never a matter of disbelief or lack of credibility but that he was simply too strong and they were just inherently weak people.
Holzer does have his creepy moments, not in the spirit realm. He is a perhaps a bit obsessed with the sexuality of pre-teen girls and the ability of that sexuality to fuel paranormal activity. Certainly, Holzer is not the only paranormal specialist to believe that children, especially girls, attract spirit activity to a home. He had extensive training and experience in ghost hunting and religious studies. People submitted photos to him that they believed showed proof of an afterlife and Holzer published some in this weighty tome. As someone who once worked as a certified photo technician, I can debunk (paranormal speak for disproof) some of the anomalies in the photos. While I’m sure he was the top of his field and he certainly was not going to let the reader forget the lead character in all of his investigations. Holzer’s stories frequently featured a trance medium that would join him on site and then be “possessed” by the spirits waiting to cross to “The Other Side.” Holzer’s descriptions of engaging with the “stay-behinds” show a flair for the dramatic. Holzer shows a skill for deliciously bold self-aggrandizing. If it can be used to enhance his reputation, Holzer would not let that chance slip by.
Many of the stories are much the same. Dead lady in white trapped in the home in which she died; dead soldier trapped in the field hospital in which he perished; dead young woman trapped in the New York Townhouse where she fell down a staircase. Holzer sees himself as the only hope for all of them. Only he has the skill, only he can connect and only he can help them pass over to happiness. This job was not something he saw as a skill alone but an obligation. No “stay-behind” must go unhelped. Despite his chronic self-aggrandizement, Holzer did have a selfless and generous side all aimed at what we cannot see.
If you’re looking to be convinced of an afterlife, “Ghosts” is not the book for you. If you’re looking for a book easily picked up and put down featuring engaging stories by an author who will make you smile despite relaying life’s greatest sadness, “Ghosts” is a can’t miss.
The original work is not available anymore. About 160 stories were published as a Kindle version by Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers in September 2014. Take the opportunity to read an excerpt and buy Ghosts: True Encounters with the World Beyond by Hans Holzer on