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Passage of Darkness: The Ethnobiology of the Haitian Zombie Paperback – May 27, 1988


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Passage of Darkness: The Ethnobiology of the Haitian Zombie + The Serpent and the Rainbow: A Harvard Scientist's Astonishing Journey into the Secret Societies of Haitian Voodoo, Zombis, and Magic
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 365 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1ST edition (May 27, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807842109
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807842102
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #883,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Haitian zombification, a subject that has provoked a great deal of sensational reporting in the popular press and skepticism in anthropological circles, is analyzed in this fascinating work. The author delves into its physiological, social, and psychological impact, the result of two years of on-site study of the structure and function of the Bizango secret societies. He presents an extensive analysis of the chemical composition of various poisons reputed to induce a physiological state that could simulate death. To transform a person so affected into a zombie through antidotes is part of the pharmacopoeia of the Bizango societies. Of interest both to social scientists and the medical profession. Winnie Lambrecht, Brown Univ., Providence, R.I.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

ÝA fascinating book."American Scientist"

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Customer Reviews

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For anyone interested in this field, the work bears up under multiple readings.
Santeria
These are people who have great knowledge of plant irritants and animal poisons such as tetrodotoxin of various puffer fish species (also known as fugu), frogs, etc.
J Irvin
Wade did an excellent job in portraying what goes on in the underworld of Haiti.
Pierre R Rouzier - prouzier@gate.net

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Pierre R Rouzier - prouzier@gate.net on April 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
I actually met Wade Davis when he came to Haiti to do his research on his book, and I know personnaly manny of the characters in the book. Wade did an excellent job in portraying what goes on in the underworld of Haiti.
The chapter when he talks about the driver of the commandant of St Marc who was actually a secret society leader and actually had more power and influence than his boss is really key point in the balance of power in Haiti. Those who seem to be nobodies sometimes have more power than presidents
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By J Irvin on February 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
Passage of Darkness: The Ethnobiology of the Haitian Zombie by Dr. Wade Davis, 1988.

Preface by Dr. Richard Evens Schultes (Harvard).

We have all seen the stereo-typical archetypes of the zombie portrayed on TV, in the movies, in video games, etc. But what if zombies are real? Dr. Wade Davis has given us the science of fact behind the mythological tales of the Haitian zombie.

Dr. Davis provides evidence beyond reasonable doubt for documented cases of zombies. As a student of the famed Dr. Richard Evens Schultes of Harvard's Botanical Museum, Dr. Davis sets out to uncover the mysterious history, pharmacology, anthropology (enthobiology) and socio-political motivations behind zombies.

As it turns out, the history of creating zombies is a political one. The slaves brought with them from Africa to Haiti their shamanic knowledge of powerful poisons as well as their systems of punishment, law, politics, government and secret societies (Bizango) that formed from the maroons. It is herein revealed that the Vodoun religion of Haiti is as much a political structure as it is a religious one. Part of the magic dealt by bokers and houngan of the Bizango societies of that of law and order, and sometimes punishment is dealt to the guilty in the form of zombification.

However, in Haiti, and juxtaposed to foreign concepts of zombies, the people actually fear becoming zombies, not being attacked by them. This is because the pariahs of society, the criminals, repeat thieves, rapists, those who take advantage of others for their own gain, those who don't properly share land with kin according to need and family size, are those who will be targeted for zombification. Zombification is not dealt out on a whim by evil sorcerers.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Santeria on May 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
Passage of Darkness seems to be the technical book of Wade Davis's findings after the field research was complete. SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW was the more popular version of the same material.

For anyone interested in this field, the work bears up under multiple readings. As to why "no followup"... take a look at Wade Davis's collected essays: the man is a polyglot in a marvelous sense. His current projects are absolutely essential, and he documents some cultures that are dying out. He has laid the groundwork for probably a number of Phd theses.

Check out :

Haiti: Guide to the Periodical Literature in English, 1800-1990 (Bibliographies and Indexes in Latin American and Caribbean Studies)

by Frantz Pratt (Compiler)

for more source material on Haiti. Wade Davis's Books including this one, PASSAGE OF DARKNESS, provide a great list of material to study a very significant culture.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 22, 1997
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent well written and well researched book that gripped my like few non-fiction books ever have, yet, it leaves science minded people hanging. After all the research Davis conducted it makes no sense that he failed to follow up with experimentation using tetrodotoxin in a laboratory setting. It seems that he comes so close to finding a new use for this sodium blocking drug but fails to follow up. Maybe he has and I just haven't been able to find it despite extensive efforts. If you know of any follow-up please e-mail me
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