Wonderfully well-written, outrageous, and provocative." — Booklist.
"Entertaining ... and scholarly ... Like a bag of Halloween candy, the book is a lot of fun." — Boston Globe.
"Fans of cultural history will devour each chapter ... like a toothsome treat." — Christian Science Monitor.
Acclaimed cultural critic David J. Skal explores one of America's most perplexingly popular holidays in this original mix of personal anecdotes and social analysis. Skal traces Halloween's evolution from its dark Celtic history and quaint, small-scale celebrations to its emergence as mammoth seasonal marketing event.
Skal takes readers on a cross-country survey that covers remarkably divergent perspectives, from the merchants who welcome a money-making opportunity that's second only to Christmas to fundamentalists who decry Halloween a form of blasphemy and practicing witches who embrace it as a holy day. He also profiles individuals who revel in this once-a-year occasion to participate in elaborate fantasies. Their narratives, combined with the author's cultural analysis, offer a revealing look at an intriguing aspect of our national psyche.
David J. Skal
ForewordIntroduction: The Candy Man's Tale1. The Halloween Machine2. The Witch's Teat3. Home is Where the Hearse is o, How to Haunt a House4. The Devil on Castro Street and Other Skirmished in the Culture War5. Halloween on ScreenEpilogue: September 11 and October 31AfterwordNotesAcknowledgmentsIndex