The Serpent and the Rainbow

The Serpent and the Rainbow

3.8 8
by Wade Davis
     
 

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A scientific investigation and personal adventure story about zombis and the voudoun culture of Haiti by a Harvard scientist.

In April 1982, ethnobotanist Wade Davis arrived in Haiti to investigate two documented cases of zombis—people who had reappeared in Haitian society years after they had been officially declared dead and had been buried. Drawn into a

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Overview

A scientific investigation and personal adventure story about zombis and the voudoun culture of Haiti by a Harvard scientist.

In April 1982, ethnobotanist Wade Davis arrived in Haiti to investigate two documented cases of zombis—people who had reappeared in Haitian society years after they had been officially declared dead and had been buried. Drawn into a netherworld of rituals and celebrations, Davis penetrated the vodoun mystique deeply enough to place zombification in its proper context within vodoun culture. In the course of his investigation, Davis came to realize that the story of vodoun is the history of Haiti—from the African origins of its people to the successful Haitian independence movement, down to the present day, where vodoun culture is, in effect, the government of Haiti’s countryside.

The Serpent and the Rainbow combines anthropological investigation with a remarkable personal adventure to illuminate and finally explain a phenomenon that has long fascinated Americans.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Exotic and far-reaching . . . a corker of a read, just the way Indiana Jones would tell it." — The Wall Street Journal

"Zombis do come back from the dead, and Wade Davis knows how." — Washington Post Book World

"An account solving one of the most puzzling biological mysteries of all time." — Omni

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Haitians believe that the world is full of spirits, and accept spirit possession as part of life and of their African-derived vodoun religion, notes Harvard ethnobotanist Davis. This booka combination of travelogue, scientific report and mysteryis an arresting account of his search for poisons and antidotes presumably used to create zombis, the victims usually selected by a secret society tribunal. Analysis revealed that the poisons contain a substance that lowers the metabolic rate almost to the point of clinical death, from which, with the help of sorcerers, bodies may be raised from the grave. Vodoun priests, witnesses and alleged zombisone of whom Davis metmaintained that the victims of such unnatural deaths are often turned into robot-like slaves. How Davis gained access to the all-powerful network of secret societies similar to those of West Africa, witnessed and even participated in their meetings provides the final key to the zombi mystery. First serial to Omni. January 6
Library Journal
The book is an anecdotal and personal account by Davis, an ethnobotanist who pursued research on zombification in Haiti. During the course of several field trips, Davis discovered the neuropharmacological properties of plant and animal substances that explain how zombies are made. Davis also became enmeshed in the social web of Haitian society and depicts the historical forces that led to the intertwined relationships between cults and secret societies on the one hand, and the government on the other. The book lacks the kind of completeness that might be of interest to anthropologists, ethnobotanists, and medical specialists; it is more of a personal narrative, a diary of discovery, interesting to the public at large, but leaving specialists with a number of unanswered questions. Preferred Choice Book Plan main selection. Winifred Lambrecht, Anthropology Dept., Brown Univ., Providence, R.I.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780684839295
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
08/05/1997
Edition description:
Reissue
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
197,796
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

Wade Davis received his doctorate in ethnobotany from Harvard University and is an Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society. He is the author of many books, including The Serpent and the Rainbow and One River. He lives in British Columbia, Canada.

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The Serpent and the Rainbow 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
M_L_Gooch_SPHR More than 1 year ago
I initially became interested in this book after writing an adventure novel set in 1935 Haiti which contained a fictionalized account of voodoo. Naturally I was drawn to the Wade Davis's Serpent and the Rainbow. Containing close to 300 pages with fast-paced chapters I found this to be a great value. Not only does it satisfy a person seeking an adventure novel (which it is) or as a guide to native cultures and anthropology (does this too) but also as a sort of mystery. Indeed a murder mystery whereby the victims refuse to play their roles and keep returning from the dead! I understand that since the publication of this book, some in the scientific community want to dismiss this important work. Until these skeptics spend the time, energy and effort that was expended by Wade Davis in his epic search for the truth; it would be my suggestion that they study a bit more in order to catch up. The casual reader as well as the research type will enjoy this well made book. I greatly appreciate the work the author put into this material. And finally, to agree with the other reviewers - No, this is not at all like the movie. I can also recommend an oldie but goodie - Voodoo Fire in Haiti I hope you find my opinion helpful. Michael L. Gooch Author of Wingtips with Spurs
songcatchers More than 1 year ago
Rating: 3.5 stars The Serpent and the Rainbow is a somewhat slow first-hand account of the search for the truth behind zombis. Wade Davis weaves together mysticism, ethnobotony, anthropology and history. Overall, it was a pretty interesting tale Wade wove. I especially enjoyed learning some of the history of Haiti and her African roots. There were parts though that bored me. The movie is much more exciting, but if you're interested in the real story written by the man himself you should read the book.
Emia More than 1 year ago
An informative read, but ocassionaly rambling and dull.
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Snacksthemaster More than 1 year ago
This Book by Wade Davis, a professor at Harvard is a very good book for reading and general information about voodoo. I like the mix of science and reilgion, and the paradox of freewill and to think this book is not fiction but nonfiction and really happen. Now if anyone is like me and read alot and expand one,s intellect then this book is the one for you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can get a bit repetitive at times.