jump to navigation
  • Review: The Ghost Wore Black October 30, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Review: The Ghost Wore Black

    The Ghost Wore Black: Ghastly Tales from the Past is the latest in Ghosts of the Past series by Chris Woodyard. Anyone familiar with CW’s style will know by now what to expect. There are half a dozen thematic chapters, which takes us from devils, to wild men, to spring-heeled jack wannabees: ‘ghosts’ has to […]

    Review: The Extraordinary and the Everyday in Early Modern England September 25, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Review: The Extraordinary and the Everyday in Early Modern England

    Academia usually shuffles anxiously away from the bizarre, but every so often a historian of note decides to take on something strange – crucifying cats, delusional werewolves… – and produces insights into the past. Imagine, instead, though that a whole soccer team of first-rank historians huddled together and determined to sprint after curious events, instead […]

    Review: The Hikey Sprites September 12, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    Review: The Hikey Sprites

    Review of Ray Loveday, The Hikey Sprites: The Twilight of a Norfolk Tradition (Norfolk 2009) The Hikey Sprites (aka Hyter Sprites) were Norfolk fairies that were summoned up by parents and grandparents to corral children into decency: ‘you be good or the Hikeys will get you’; ‘get home before dark or the Hikeys will get […]

    Review: Shock! The Black Dog of Bungay August 10, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    Review: Shock! The Black Dog of Bungay

    ***Thanks to the Count for this tip*** Shock: The Black Dog of Bungay is a recent book (2010) by David Waldron (of Ballarat Australia) and Christopher Reeve of Bungay, Norfolk. The fact that you have to get a historian-anthropologist from down-under and a Norfolk historian to do justice to said black dog – and they […]

    Review: Barry, Witchcraft and Demonology July 17, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Review: Barry, Witchcraft and Demonology

    Witchcraft is extraordinarily popular in history faculties: there can be few first grade universities that don’t offer either a course on witchcraft or a course that has a witchcraft component. But caveat emptor, actually most of these courses are not about witchcraft, but about the witch hunt, in which tens of thousands of men and […]

    Review: The Terror That Comes in the Night June 4, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Review: The Terror That Comes in the Night

    Beach has been lucky with his reading recently. It began with Dennis Gaffen’s Running with the Fairies, passed on to Chris Woodyard’s Face in the Window and Emma Wilby’s Cunning Folk and then there was a jump back in time with Mike Dash’s Borderlands. Another excellent addition to his library has been David J.Hufford’s The […]

    Review: Borderlands May 25, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Review: Borderlands

    In 1997 Mike Dash brought out a five-hundred-page whopper entitled Borderlands. This book, that somehow completely passed Beach by for fifteen years, is, to use the word of one reader, a ‘small ‘s’ skeptical approach to Forteana’: lengthy examinations of earth magnetism, UFOlogy and other disciplines that survive on the margins of modern science. What […]

    Review: Cunning Folk May 22, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Review: Cunning Folk

    There is a memorable scene near the beginning of Woody Allen’s Annie Hall when Woody goes out on his first date with Diane Keaton and kisses her at the very start of the evening: oily old Woody says that he just wants to get the kiss out of the way and let everything else follow […]

    Review: Secret of Kells March 31, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Review: Secret of Kells

    Part of being a twenty-first century parent involves the ability to watch cartoons repeatedly with your children (discuss). Most of these cartoons are trash. A minority are witty: Mega Mind, Toy Story… And a  handful – Shrek, Bambi, Totoro, Kiki the Witch… – make modern art house films look like third-rate romantic comedies: they really […]

    Review: Witches, Fantasies and Fairies March 8, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Review: Witches, Fantasies and Fairies

    In 1966 Carlo Ginzburg, a WANW Italian historian, published I Benandanti. In this book, Ginzburg argued that a group of sixteenth-century Friulian peasants, who believed themselves to have  super powers – they could fly and fight witches – were the last traces of a pre-Christian fertility cult in the region. Ginzburg went on to argue that […]

    Review: The Face in the Window February 19, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Review: The Face in the Window

    Two useful rules for writing reviews that Beach is about to break. Never write a review about a friend’s work and never write a review before finishing a book. Well, today we incinerate these rules and celebrate Chris Woodyard’s The Face in the Window because, after having read 80%, it is clear that it deserves […]

    Review: Running with the Fairies January 28, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Review: Running with the Fairies

    Scholarly fairy books are rare indeed: they average at about one every four years. Not many at all when you think that a score of volumes on Vietnam are published each month. This infrequency means that it is always extremely exciting when a new member of the fairy family shuffles onto the stage. So, with […]

    Review: Goodwin Wharton October 31, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Review: Goodwin Wharton

    In the spring of 1683, a disgraced scion of an English aristocratic family, Goodwin Wharton met Mary Parish a woman in regular communication with fairies (‘lowlanders’), angels, the dead and, of course, the Almighty. Mary was down on her luck having alienated her spirit guide, having argued bitterly with the royal family of faery and […]

    Mud, Blood and Poppycock October 6, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Mud, Blood and Poppycock

    Beach has a question that he always enjoys asking first year American university students:  did World War One/World War Two/the Cold War represent a fight between good and evil? Class after class, semester after semester the pattern repeats itself. The Second World War is almost universally held up as such a war. Usually a quarter […]

    Review: Walter Starkie, Raggle Taggle September 19, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: Walter Starkie, Raggle Taggle

    When Beach first picked up Walter Starkie’s Raggle-Taggle: Adentures with a Fiddle in Hungary and Roumania (1947) he was looking for a reference to fairies. The book was to be a literary one night stand: 300 closely printed sides, ten minutes of flicking. But already in ‘the Preface to New Edition’ a more serious relationship […]

    Page 2 of 512345