59 of 60 people found the following review helpful
Rich and informative,
This review is from: The Serpent and the Rainbow: A Harvard Scientist's Astonishing Journey into the Secret Societies of Haitian Voodoo, Zombis, and Magic (Paperback)
I bought this book years ago and put it down after I realized it was nothing like the movie. Man, I'm glad I wizened up. The book saturates you in a country and culture where nothing is as it seems. Secret societies, Vodoun (as Davis refers to it in the book) and yes, Zombies are throughout it's pages. But what I thought was really interesting is when Davis talks about the history of Haiti. I could not get enough. Not only does he paint an amazing portrait of a remarkable people, but he masterfully takes you step by step on how the brutal origins of the country reflects it's modern day society and religion.
When he does talk about the Zombie poison, Davis makes it easy to understand how without giving specifics but revealing the major components. Beginning with a sound hypothesis when starting on his adventure and unraveling the mystery scientifically as the book progresses. He loves is terminology, but never does it frustrate the reader. Also, where he excels again is when he uses historical reference to provide many examples how similar or the same poisons have accidentally given the appearance of death in different parts and times of the world. Furthermore Davis explains that the poison is just a component to religious and social conditioning that reinforce the defintion of "Zombi".
After reading "The Serpent and the Rainbow" it will compel you to look up figures such as Macandal, Dr. Francois Devalier and especially Zore Neale Hurston, in which he names a chapter from the works of this remarkable woman.
My only complaint about the book is that I wish the author had provided a map. As descriptive as he is, it's hard to get a point of reference. One would say go on the net, but that's hard to do when your reading on a bus.
What I find ironic is that the movie of the same name glorifies the stereotypes in wich this book goes a lengths to disprove. But the irony within that irony is that if it wasn't for the movie, I never would have bought and read such a great book.
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Initial post: Sep 4, 2008 1:01:31 PM PDT
Janice Jimerson says:
I have seen the movie on television, but I have not read the book. I have only skimmed some book pages, but one day I just might want to read the book.
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