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Present at a Hanging and Other Ghost Stories
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Present at a Hanging and Other Ghost Stories

3.58  ·  Rating Details ·  371 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
The flare was momentary, followed by black darkness, in which, however, the apparition still showed white and motionless; then by insensible degrees it faded and vanished, like a bright image on the retina after the closing of the eyes. A peculiarity of the apparition, hardly noted at the time, but afterward recalled, was that it showed only the upper half of the woman's f ...more
Kindle Edition, 49 pages
Published (first published 1913)
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Feb 02, 2017 Quirkyreader rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This collection was full of some very good stories. They are good for a small scare, but not ones that will give nightmares.
Amy (Other Amy)
I read this way too fast and will have to go back to it, but I can't say that is a chore. This brief little morsel is well worth the read and is available free from several locations, including Project Gutenberg. Published in 1913 (the same year its author disappeared on the Mexican border), this volume collects several of Bierce's ghost stories, with a brief frame from Bierce that delights by wading into the science fiction end of the pool. The stories are repetitive, but the author's signature ...more
most of these I have read before but hey! it's Ambrose Bierce! worth reading over & over.
Marts  (Thinker)
Dec 31, 2009 Marts (Thinker) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Bierce's eerie tales of mystery. I have an audio version which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Not Bierce at his best, though not bad either. The ghost stories here are all told in a very matter-of-fact kind of way. This doesn't lend itself well to the telling of a ghost story, as it just about eliminates any chance of creating the accompanying horror such stories should elicit. His straightforward tone fails to create any kind of atmosphere and in the end the stories aren't dissimilar to that of newspaper articles. However, lacking in mood they may be, they still have some interesting co ...more
Feb 23, 2014 Holly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to a Librivox audio recording of this book when commuting on the train. The ghost stories were short, simple, subtle, not overly dramatic or sensationalized - and eerily spooky for that.

If I had read them on a dark, windy night, or as a child, I think I would have been so crept out by their weird surreality that I would've been kept from sleeping.

...As it was 6am and I'd been up since five, I had little trouble dozing on the train.
While not a book that would be of interest to everyone, I found Present at a Hanging and Other Ghost Stories to be a wonderfully delightful collection of spooky stories set around the Civil War era. Each story was short and to the point, not relying on a lot of convoluted and unnecessary details and imagery to...enhance...the reader's experience.

It's an interesting way of presenting this collection of ghost stories. In what comes across as a journalistic presentation of facts, as opposed to flow
Simon_Cleveland_Ph.D. Simon_Cleveland_Ph.D.
This short collection is guaranteed to make you feel eerie in those cold, dark nights when you stayed home alone to read. But then again how else to savor these stories? Here is a pointer. Get your hands on a copy of this book sometime around mid-day Friday. Blow off your friends for the night and go straight home. Wait until the daylight is just a memory and then sit with this book on your favorite old chair, preferably near a window, and delve into it with only the nightstand light on. Take ti ...more
Although not written in a suspenseful style, the tales are still entertaining. A fun, little read.
Jul 24, 2012 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ambrose Bierce was a contemporary of Mark Twain but much more acerbic and less prolific. I'm not sure how to describe his style - I think it's something you either like or you don't. I do. After reading M.R. James's Collected Ghost Stories, I felt in the mood for more and read this one. A world of difference. Where James is florid and Victorian, Bierce is terse and American. But both write good stories. These are exceptionally short, some only a few paragraphs. But some of the shortest ones pack ...more
Grace Harwood
I quite enjoyed reading this short volume of ghost stories from Ambrose Bierce. Again (as in The Monk and the Hangman's Daughter) there is that famous Gothic trope of distancing himself as the author from the tales by stating that they have been told to him as true and the reader is not to question too much as to explanations. However, something akin to an explanation is attempted at the end with Dr. Hem's theory of "cavities" in the earth being as "Space is pervaded by luminiferous ether..." wh ...more
teleri llinos
Jan 01, 2017 teleri llinos rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
"But I had in my pocket a photograph of Barting, which had been inclosed in the letter from his widow. It had been taken a week before his death, and was without a mustache."

It was super easy to fall in love with this book. The simple tones used throughout the stories are beautiful. I especially love the background information, and then, in the last sentence, there is your horror. The building up doesn't seem as though it is happening, and I love it.

I was shocked at how thin the book as, around

I enjoyed this book, a short story collection of VERY short stories, about 20 in all, relating to ghostly presences, appearances and mysterious disappearances of people and so on.

My only complaint would be that the stories were in some cases ridiculously short of which made me think, well what was the point in that?! But for the most part I enjoyed all of the stories, all of which are broken down into various sections such as haunted houses, mysterious disappearances, army related and so on, so
Shawn Fairweather
40 pages of various storylines that are often repetitive. Some may have trouble finding the stories scary due to the fact that this piece is dated especially when compared to modern standards but remember that these stories are over a 150 years old. In any event the stories are not well developed and seem to be simply plot lines often ranging from a few paragraphs to a couple of pages. Often times they dont feel like stories at all but more or less someone revisiting an experience they believe t ...more
These ghost stories all take place at or around the time of the Civil War. It makes sense that the war would spur ghost stories and many of them in this collection are fine. I have to say the first story, Present at a Hanging was my favorite so as I read on, the stories had less charm for me. Still, the collection was entertaining and fun. Everyone likes to be scared once in awhile and ghost stories help us deal with our inner most fears.
May 11, 2014 Patrick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Interesting read. Concise little stories about ghostly happenings. I could string together several to make a more modern horror story, which makes these good source material for sparking writing ideas.

I've read the compiled writings of Charles Forte, particularly The Book of the Damned, which this reminded me of. I suspect Forte of borrowing Bierce's format for his works.
Apr 30, 2014 Pam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some of the best. Discovered this when researching stories of time slips; specifically the story about the man who disappears while walking through a field, in "The Difficulty of Crossing a Field". Even more curious that Bierce himself disappeared years later.
Oct 09, 2015 James rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
Yes, most of the stories follow similar themes. But taken as a whole you can feel the influence of the 19th Century Spiritualism movement and the effect of the Civil War on Ambrose Bierce and the community in general in how they approached ghost stories.
Aug 05, 2009 Sarah rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle, horror, 2009
These are civil war-era short ghost stories. Nothing incredible, just some spooky little tidbits to be told around a campfire. It took me a couple to get a feel for them; they're very simple, but it was worth a read.
Ivan Soto
I read this as part of Classic American Literature: 13 books by Bierce in a single file, improved 1/7/2011 [Kindle Edition]
Aug 12, 2011 A.R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a really cool non-fiction book. Here we get a fascinating collection of very short, true ghost stories.
Carla JFCL
Really fun little collection of old, classic, not-so-scary ghost stories.
Paul Foley
Dec 22, 2011 Paul Foley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Who doesn't love a good ghost story? These mostly Civil War-era short tales satisfy the craving for the spooky and irrational.
Nick Kinsella
Jan 16, 2013 Nick Kinsella rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What a load of tosh. The least scary ghost stories ever. Avoid.
Mar 10, 2012 Matthew rated it it was ok
Sep 08, 2015 K.A. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, paranormal
Fun ghost stories from an under-rated writer. An essential for anyone studying the art of the ghost story as a writer or reader.
Justin Howe
Apr 25, 2011 Justin Howe rated it really liked it
These aren't so much ghost stories as journalistic accounts of hauntings and other strange occurrences.
Eric Carter
The stories were hit or miss with me. I enjoyed the story "spook house" the most.
Nov 01, 2016 Terry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hazen Master
Nov 24, 2013 Hazen Master rated it liked it
Neat stories. Most were too short.
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Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce (1842-1914) was an American editorialist, journalist, short story writer, fabulist and satirist. Today, he is best known for his short story, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge and his satirical lexicon, The Devil's Dictionary.

The sardonic view of human nature that informed his work – along with his vehemence as a critic, with his motto "nothing matters" – earned him the ni
More about Ambrose Bierce...

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