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After the American Civil War, while bodies still littered battlefields, the movement known as Spiritualism began to sweep across America as thousands of people, mostly from shock and grief, tried to make contact with the recently departed. The movement captivated Europe as well, especially England in the aftermath of the Great War and Great Influenza Epidemic. Prominent figures such as Charles Dickens, W.B. Yeats, and Queen Victoria were mesmerized. The movement's most famous spokesman was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Known to the world as the creator of Sherlock Holmes, Doyle underwent what many people at the time considered an enigmatic transformation, turning his back on the hyper-rational Holmes and plunging into the supernatural. What was it that convinced a brilliant man like Doyle, the creator of the great exemplar of cold, objective thought, that there was a reality beyond the reality? Why did professors, philosophers, statesmen and men of science like the great evolutionist Alfred Russell Wallace, the Novel-Laureate physiologist Charles Richet, and the distinguished chemist Sir William Crookes also become Spiritualists? Using the life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as a lens, Bechtel probes this largely unexplored movement, a movement rife with fraud but also full of genuine evidence that is difficult to dismiss.

About the Author

Stefan Bechtel

Stefan Bechtel is the author of "Mr. Hornaday's War: How a Peculiar Victorian Zookeeper Waged a Lonely Crusade for Wildlife That Changed the World" (Beacon Press, 2012) . He has written ten other books that have sold more than two million copies and been translated into a dozen languages. His recent books include Tornado Hunter(National Geographic) , about "boy genius" storm chaser Tim Samaras, and Roar of the Heavens (Citadel) , about 1969's Hurricane Camille. He is a founding editor of Men's Healthmagazine. His work has also appeared in Esquire, the Washington Post, American Way, and other publications.

Photographer Copyright Credit Name: Peggy Harrison, 2012.

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