Death Makes a Holiday
A Cultural History of Halloween
By David J. Skal
(Bloomsbury USA, Hardcover, 9781582342306, 256pp.)
Publication Date: September 1, 2002
List Price: $25.95*
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From acclaimed cultural critic David J. Skal, an in-depth look at one of the most popular-and perplexing-holidays in America.
Using a mix of personal anecdotes and brilliant social analysis, Skal examines the amazing phenomenon of Halloween, exploring its dark Celtic history and illuminating why it has evolved-in the course of a few short generations-from a quaint, small-scale celebration into the largest seasonal marketing event outside of Christmas.
Traveling the country, Skal profiles a wide cross-section of America-hard-nosed business men who see Halloween in terms of money; fundamentalists who think it is blasphemous; practicing witches who view it as sacred; and more ordinary men and women who go to extraordinary lengths, on this one night only, to transform themselves and their surroundings into elaborate fantasies. Firmly rooted in a deeper cultural and historical analysis, these interviews seek to understand what the various rituals and traditions associated with the holiday have to say about our national psyche.
David J. Skal is the author of Hollywood Gothic and The Monster Show, among others. With Nina Auerbach, he is the co-editor of the Norton Critical Edition of Bram Stoker's Dracula. A longtime New Yorker, he now lives in Los Angeles.