Sunday, July 24, 2016

American Ghost – A brilliantly written family history.

I just finished reading American Ghost; A Family’s Haunted Past in the Desert Southwest by Hannah Nordhaus. It is a beautifully crafted story about Hannah’s German ancestors who had to escape Germany during the Nazi reign. The family settled in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the father, Abraham Staab, became a successful businessman.  So successful that he built a house for his wife and children called La Posada. 
Over many years traveling back and forth across the country and to Germany, consulting with historians, genealogists, spiritualists, ghost hunters and family members, Hannah captures the essence of the lives of Abraham and Julia Schuster Staab. The amount of research done tracing this Jewish family is impressive.

It is Julia that Hannah is most interested in. She was curious about the continued reports of Julie’s ghost at La Posada. "A sad, dark-eyed woman in a long gown" kept appearing frightening guests and staff at the former Staab house. Hannah is driven to learn as much as she can about her great-great-grandmother. And she does. Was Julia's husband a tyrant or just a man of his time and place? There are many questions in which Hannah seeks the answer. Some she finds; others remain a mystery. Isn't that how it is with all our ancestor research?

The book is well written and captures well the lives of the Staab and Schuster families. It is the kind of family story most of us can only dream of writing. I highly recommend this book.

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