Customer Reviews


34 Reviews
5 star:
 (20)
4 star:
 (10)
3 star:
 (3)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life after death
Forget everything you ever heard about Count Dracula and Lestat, we are dealing with the real thing here. You won't find any pale and sophisticated lounge lizards in this book, just foul smelling revenants lumbering about in uninhabited forests - and they are much more interesting than the Hollywood vampires we know so well.
This book deals with the origins of the...
Published on January 12, 2002 by badric

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dry but informative
In Vampires, Burial, and Death, Barber differentiates between vampires of folklore and those of popular fiction (with a very strong emphasis on those of folklore). He proposes that the folklore of vampires arose due to people's fear of dead bodies. He rigorously notes the common traits of folklore vampires (blood at the mouth, bloating, groaning when staked, red face,...
Published on March 21, 2012 by Rachel


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life after death, January 12, 2002
This review is from: Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality (Paperback)
Forget everything you ever heard about Count Dracula and Lestat, we are dealing with the real thing here. You won't find any pale and sophisticated lounge lizards in this book, just foul smelling revenants lumbering about in uninhabited forests - and they are much more interesting than the Hollywood vampires we know so well.
This book deals with the origins of the vampire myth and is full of information on the scientific facts and superstitions that lead people to believe that the dead weren't really dead. Paul Barber quotes many contemporary sources and first hand experiences, including a fascinating report from a doctor who supervised the exhumation of about 20 suspected vampires in Serbia. Several scientific aspects of decomposition are described in painstaking detail and the author convincingly explains why peasants, who had no knowledge of forensic medicine, believed that these corpses weren't completely dead - and it makes perfect sense. Small wonder people thought that the dead were no really dead considering the astonishing changes they sometimes go through.
This is a very interesting book, well organised and easy to read, and not as gruesome as it could have been considering the subject matter. If you're interested in knowing how the vampire myth originated this is a great place to start.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A VERY funny, exhaustively informative, and scholarly work, November 9, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality (Paperback)
I stumbled over this book in our public library. What a find!
Mr. Barber has written what looks on the surface like a doctoral dissertation. The chapters are arranged as though to present and defend a thesis. But the content is so engagingly written (to the point of laugh-out-loud funny), it's difficult to put the book down, even when it exhaustively explains the details of bodily putrefaction. This is a must-have for anyone interested in REAL vampire folklore and superstition roots!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The odd behavior of the dead, June 14, 2001
By 
Eric Turowski (Oakland, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality (Paperback)
A lot of information in this book I'd heard from different sources over the years, but this one puts it all together. In one short volume, the entire vampire superstition is quickly and succinctly explained away. Evidently, the vampire myth is worldwide because of the way all human bodies behave after death. Simple as that. Details are given on a case-by-case basis as well as a plethora of rather gristly facts on decomposition, the problem of disposing of dead bodies, and the scientific (as well as superstitious) beliefs of cultures through time. There is nothing romanticized here, no black capes, no hypnotism, no pale aristocrats, no immortality. The imagination is nonetheless stimulated. One can only imagine the terror of a pre-scientific community suffering from a plague, digging up grandpa and discovering that he looks a lot more fat and healthy since he died last month. Something is horribly wrong... This is a great book, really well thought out and well presented. But if you're looking for "real" vampires, try the fiction section.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bought it by mistake, August 29, 2004
By 
Colonel Jenna (Overland Park, Kansas USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality (Paperback)
I actually thought I was ordering another book, but I'm quite glad that I got this one! The author is working from the naturalistic, forensic side of vampires and other revenants, something that at best gets only one chapter in other books. He clarifies the common misconceptions about 'vampires', and while using the term for simplicity's sake discusses all the sorts of European walking dead.

The forensic details are quite scientific and factual (read: graphic), and although I have a strong stomach there was one fleeting moment where I went, "yuck". The book is not written to shock, however. The author even occasionally throws in a bit of dry humour, my favorite being his discussion of his dog's "spirit of scientific inquiry" in digging up dead things in the back yard.

I have loaned my copy to a friend who is an amateur criminalist and forensic-freak, and hope that the information in it will help us in our discussions on a certain murder investigation. As it is several years old I would suggest someone who wants cutting-edge this-year forensic science to go elsewhere. But for the vampirologist, anthropologist, or the curious, this is a great read. My friend had better give my copy back!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sparkling, scholarly investigation of folkloric vampires., August 23, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality (Paperback)
Anyone who has read Nina Auerbach's Our Vampires, Ourselves needs to investigate this marvellous book by Paul Barber, a rare scholarly study that is written with verve, wit, and charm. Barber reminds us that the undead of folklore have precious little in common with Bram Stoker's Dracula or Anne Rice's Lestat -- those are completely modern concoctions. The traditional vampire is, in fact, a corpse. And not a corpse in any too good shape, either! Barber includes more information about the body after death than you could ever have imagined, and yet somehow manages to maintain a jolly tone while he discusses the details of decomposition and other potentially gut-churning subjects. I laughed out loud at lines like these: "However tragic your death may be, it would be far more tragic if you were to take me with you." This is a great book!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Really interesting tour of corpses, July 7, 2007
By 
This review is from: Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality (Paperback)
Warning: gross discussions of corpses, and the handling thereof, ahead.

It's good that Paul Barber can take his vampire studies with a bit of humor; I'd be sad if he had forgotten the comical roots of what became a very serious scholarly study of attitudes toward death. Hence in the middle of a very long and interesting section on what, specifically, happens to bodies after death, we have the footnote on page 163 that begins, "While we are dwelling on the unutterably loathsome . . . " and this one on 176: "I would guess that Giure Grando's cry resulted from the manipulation of the corpse but can really not say much about the matter, since I almost never have occasion to decapitate a corpse with a shovel."

The process of decomposition is endlessly fascinating -- something I realized vaguely, but not really in detail until I read Barber's book. For instance, it hadn't occurred to me that dumping a body in the water -- even with a good bit of weight -- is often not enough to keep it down; bacteria in the intestines produce a great quantity of methane, which often make the body swell to twice or three times its living volume. Hence if you really want to kill someone and dump his body in the water, you should slice open his stomach and intestines before you dump it; the gases will escape before they have time to puff up the body.

Barber's introduction suggests that physiological details such as these -- fun as they are -- weren't part of his original plan. He wanted to track down the roots of beliefs in vampires, which eventually led him to realize that belief in vampires comes from ignorance of disease. When your brother dies and then your sister, it's reasonable to think that your brother has come back from the dead to haunt your family, and that the corpse has killed your sister. This belief gains some plausibility if your sister has reported seeing visions of your brother in her sleep in the days immediately after his death. All of these facts may be explained in a purely materialistic way, and a lot of the mystery disappears with a good theory of germs.

Looking back on times of plague, especially, a lot of mysteries disappear if you realize how people are buried and why societies treat corpses the way they do. If many people are dying at once, gravediggers don't have the time to put the corpse six feet underground; they rush, and the body returns to the surface -- maybe because there was a flood, or because the body's natural bloating pushes the dirt away. It may well seem, then, that the body has "come back to life." Driving a stake into it can, indeed, solve a lot of problems -- bloating in particular. Burning the body is a decisive solution, but it's also very expensive; one of the more interesting nuggets in Barber's book is about the difficulty of burning a human body, especially on the scale needed during plague epidemics.

Vampires, Burial and Death rests on many such nuggets -- various facts about decomposition and the preparation of corpses. They're incredibly interesting, and have made me want to go read "Coroner" (which Barber cites), so long as it's something more than a potboiler.

Unfortunately, those nuggets don't hold together for a non-scholarly reader. The quantity of evidence amassed is quite impressive, and builds a convincing story. But it is repetitive in the extreme. I'm sure it contains no more mass than a death-studies scholar would demand, but for the general reader it could profitably lose 50% or 75% of its heft.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very well thought-out and written expose, March 29, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality (Paperback)
This is a super review of vampire mythology, the factual literature behind it, and the science of decomposition, all of which adds up to a logical explanation for the vampire legends of yore. As a die-hard vampire fan, I loved this well-written, scholarly explanation. You'll eat it up!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent source and fun to reaed, September 26, 1998
This review is from: Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality (Paperback)
As an author of two vampire novels and several short stories about the breed, I found this book an excellent, witty, thoughtful resource, intelligent, charmingly morbid, and great fun to read. Highly recommended for the real dirt on the undead, and a powerful medicine for gothic mania. It's also a wonderful treatment of some of the twisted ways that human beings deal with their terror of death and those who have undergone it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A strong dose of bitter reality for all vampire lovers, November 4, 2000
By 
This review is from: Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality (Paperback)
This book is an unrelenting look at the "truth" about vampires. It is not as clinical as it might be, but it certainly in the grand tradition of such scholarship. The most interesting parts for fans of vampire literature are the details on the original folk lore beliefs and rituals, most of which are a lot more interesting than the ones made up by Hollywood. Not for everyone's taste, but certainly worthwhile if it is.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Conclusive Treatment, May 19, 2006
This review is from: Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality (Paperback)
This book solves the problem of widespread belief in vampires convincingly and conclusively. It accomplishes its goal by the simple yet innovative expedient of looking at the actual folkloric accounts of vampirism and comparing them to what we know about the decomposition of dead bodies. It turns out that, if left unembalmed, almost all dead bodies become "vampires" by the folkloric definition.

I'm giving you the short summation here. Barber's treatment is much more detailed. But, when you are finished examining it, you will know once and for all what vampires -- the ones that people actually used to believe in -- were all about.

This is by far the best book ever published on vampires. I'm very much surprised that it's not more popular. Maybe vampire romantics just can't face the truth.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality
Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality by Paul Barber (Paperback - July 25, 1988)
Used & New from: $1.14
Add to wishlist See buying options
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.