IN SEARCH OF WHITE CROWS: Spiritualism, Parapsychology, and American Culture by R. Laurence Moore

IN SEARCH OF WHITE CROWS: Spiritualism, Parapsychology, and American Culture

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KIRKUS REVIEW

White crow"" was William James' name for the awkward phenomenon you yourself have encountered, but which does not fit into the established scheme of things. Spiritualism and parapsychology have aimed to demonstrate the existence of some white crows, and sometimes have looked for a scheme of things to accommodate them. The 1850s were the peak for spiritualism, and Professor Moore (American History, Cornell), a fine stylist with complete control of his material, begins by discussing four aspects of spiritualism and its relation to American popular culture in the latter half of the 19th century: the nature of its widespread appeal; the complaints of Christian orthodoxy; a study of professional mediums (usually women); and spiritualist support for abolition, wage earners, Indians, and women. The second section takes up psychical research from William James through the ambiguous story of J. B. Rhine to the current connections attempted by followers of occult religions--this last a denial of the century-old insistence by the people of this book on being ""scientific."" The story is a complex one, but the book is a beautiful slice of lucid American history. It tells the reader what should be known, but anecdotes of poltergeists and esp there are not.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press