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The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends and Their Meanings [Paperback]

Jan Harold Brunvand
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
We are not aware of our own folklore any more than we are of the grammatical rules of our language. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The Vanishing Hitchhiker May 10 2000
By steven
This is a book about American Urban Legends and their meanings. The book has two aspects to it. Firstly, it describes many common urban legends, and tries to trace the origin and evolution of the stories.
Secondly, it attempts to provide an analysis or the reason for such legends appearing. The book has been organized under several broad categories for the purpose of analysis: CLASSIC AUTOMOBILE LEGENDS, TEENAGE HORRORS, DREADFUL CONTAMINATIONS, FEAR OF DEATH, NUDITY, and BUSINESS RIPOFFS.
I enjoyed many of the urban tales. It brought back memories of my childhood when I was hearing or telling the same stories. There were also some stories that were new to me, and I look forward to telling them to my friends! The author also did a good job discussing the origin and history of each of these urban myths.
Overall I enjoyed the book and would recommend to anyone who likes these types of tales.
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Brunvand was so ahead of his time. This book was originally published before the term URBAN LEGEND was a film, a sequel and a catch phrase. In these days of email boxes crammed to the brim with fake virus alerts, cookie recipes, pyramid schemes, and hundreds of forwards you cannot open, we forget the origin of "urban legends." Told and retold from generation to the next, Brunvand tells us the history of these "sworn to be true' stories such as "The Hook" and "The Boyfriend's Death" - how the stories got started and how they evolved into permanent teenage and campfire lore. Sure you can look 'em up on the Internet now, but you will never get the rich and wild history of tales told by the sister of an old boyfriend who had a cousin who SWORE it happened to her unless you read this book, and the many that Brunvand followed it up with.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book about stories and culture Aug. 7 1998
By A Customer
This book is excellent. By reading it you get a good scope on what urban legends are and how they fulfil their role in communication in society. I have done some research in Folklore and Urban Legends in the Netherlands, and Brunvand's work has had a major influence on the scope of my thesis. He knows what he is talking about. This book gives a good insight in storytelling, culture and American Society. A must for researchers in cultural studies, and probably a good book for those who want to learn more about the American society. It is fun to read, clearly written and Brunvand has a nice style of writing. I think many people would like this book, whether they are doing research, are on holiday, on the train or whatever. It's a book of all times, and so are the stories...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction to urban folklore May 12 1997
By A Customer
"The Vanishing Hitchhiker," folklorist Jan Harold Brunvand's first book on urban legends, provides a thorough introduction to the definition, interpretation, and themes of urban folkore. About three dozen classic "friend of a friend" tales are covered in depth; each is presented through several examples, accompanied by a detailed analysis, and listed in a Notes section highlighting folklore journal articles about it. All in all, an excellent introduction for those who care to learn more about the field of urban folklore rather than just read collections of urban legends
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5.0 out of 5 stars Original Text for Urban Legends Jan. 29 2004
Thanks to the work of Jan Brunvand, the term "urban legend" has become part of the English language lexicon. This is the first book that Brunvand wrote on urban legends, and it contains the classics. You can find out the scoop on rats in KFC, spiders in bananas, the hookman, and (of course) the vanishing hitchhiker. The work shows how legends are oftentimes accepted without critique for being true, and the analysis provides interesting ways for considering why these stories catch on amongst tellers and listeners.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Not A Book About Urban Legends Sept. 16 2001
By A Customer
I bought this book thinking that it was a collection of short stories about urban legends. I was partly right. It does have short stories but it also contains a explaination about each and every one including varations of a story.
I would recommend that unless this is a book report for school or college that you should save your money and try and find it in a used book store or buy it used from a seller on amazon. It is not worth the money to buy it new.
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