Download American Ghost: A Family's Extraordinary History on the by Hannah Nordhaus PDF

By Hannah Nordhaus

“A haunting tale concerning the lengthy achieve of the past.”—Maureen Corrigan, NPR’S Fresh Air

“In this fascinating ebook, [Nordhaus] stocks her trip to find who her immigrant ancestor quite was—and what unusual alchemy made the assumption of her linger lengthy after she was once gone.” —People

La Posada—“place of rest”—was as soon as a grand Santa Fe mansion. It belonged to Abraham and Julia Staab, who emigrated from Germany within the mid-nineteenth century. once they died, the home turned a resort. And within the Seventies, the resort bought a resident ghost—a unhappy, dark-eyed lady in a protracted dress. unusual issues started to ensue there: vases moved, glasses flew, blankets have been ripped from beds. Julia Staab died in 1896—but her ghost, they are saying, lives on.

In American Ghost, Julia’s great-great-granddaughter, Hannah Nordhaus, strains her ancestor’s transfiguration from nineteenth-century Jewish bride to trendy phantom. kin diaries, pictures, and newspaper clippings take her on a riveting trip via 300 years of German heritage and the yankee immigrant event. With assistance from historians, genealogists, relations, and ghost hunters, she weaves a masterful, relocating tale of fin-de-siècle Europe and pioneer existence, villains and visionaries, drugs and spiritualism, mind's eye and fact, exploring how lives turn into legends, and what these legends let us know approximately who we're.

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Additional info for American Ghost: A Family's Extraordinary History on the Desert Frontier

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From the modern point of view of the “curious” pilgrim, the pilgrimage is an intensely internal experience in an intensely physical context in which the journey, more than the destination, is the goal. But it’s also something more than that. People instinctively want something to believe in, whether they believe in anything much or not. From the medieval perspective, the pilgrimage was undertaken for the very specific reason that the great physical hardships of pain, hunger, thirst, exposure to the elements, and general loss of comfort and of all that’s familiar are con- 38 ducive to inducing a mental state eminently suited for the spiritual exercise that the pilgrimage fundamentally was and can still be—to a certain extent, the adoption of monastic spiritual practices in the non-monastic medium of the visitation of a holy site: this was the purpose of such a long and grueling journey.

I hadn’t expected this. I had begun the pilgrimage with calluses on my feet that a Marine would be proud of, the result of long, hard training in the semi-desert of southern California. The trail, however, was as tough as my calluses, and I got blisters under the calluses, where they couldn’t be pierced, an excruciating experience that would go on and on until the next full day of hiking in the rain, when the whole thing would explode into an unrecognizable mass of overlapping layers of shredded epidermis and revealed blister upon revealed blister, like so many strata in an archaeological site, penetrating to depths I had thought impossible before.

In the same way that a nonreligious person can listen with sensitivity to a Gregorian chant or read an unusually evocative passage of medieval religious prose or verse, he or she can, to a degree, still experience the pilgrimage. But there still has to be a culmination to such an experience. And to me, that culmination was not Santiago itself. This was despite the Compostela and the stunning Pilgrims’ Mass, which took place in the cathedral in a setting of sensory saturation so great that the eye hardly knew which way to look first— unless it was at the near-pagan spectacle of the botafumeiro, a giant, solid silver censer weighing 120 pounds that’s swung from the ceiling in front of the high altar and that takes eight men to set into motion in its 180-foot arc through the transepts, a spectacle that causes the crowd to break into spontaneous oohs, ahhs, cheers, and wild applause, even though they are warned by the priests ahead of time to control themselves.

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