Monday, August 20, 2012

Zombies: A Field Guide

zombies guide

From Goodreads:In the myths, legends, and folklore of many peoples, the returning, physical dead play a significant role, whether they are the zombies of Haiti or the draugr of Scandinavia. But what are the origins of an actual bodily return from the grave? Does it come from something deep within our psyche, or is there some truth to it? In Zombies, Bob Curran explores how some of these beliefs may have arisen and the truths that lay behind them, examining myths from all around the world and from ancient times including Sumerian, Babylonian, Egyptian, and Celtic. Curran traces the evolution of belief in the walking cadaver from its early inception in religious ideology to the "Resurrections" and cataleptics of 18th century Europe, from prehistoric tale to Arthurian romance. Zombies even examines the notion of the "living dead" in the world today???entities such as the "living mummies" of Japan

My Review: When I first got this book I thought I was getting a  Zombie Field Guide that explains the zombies we know in the movies and books. What I actually got was a history most of it concerning religious history of what people have thought about people returning from the dead.

I tried to put aside my misgivings and focus on what the book was and not what I thought it was. If you are looking for explanations of what people thought was the reason for some people seemly coming back from the dead then this book is for you. It covers the classic Haitian Zombie, how people in the Middle Ages thought that the dead could come back either with evil intent or just to be around family. It also goes into detail about the Body Snatchers in Victorian England. Once I adjusted my thinking I did find these bits of history somewhat fascinating. I just wish the book had been more aptly titled.

While reading this book I could see how we got the rise of the modern zombie that is shown in movies and books.I also learned that even in cultures far from us like the middle east or the far east each had their own versions of what constituted a zombie. I had never thought outside of these paragrams before so it was interesting to see that cultures that did not really cross also had stories and myths related to the dead coming back in what ever form they may. Some believed they came back in Corporal form and some believed it was a more spiritual form. Some came back with evil intent on their minds and some just wanted to be around loved ones.

There is a verity of cultures studied here so one gets a good sense of what each time period and each part of the world believed.

Aside from the misnomer of a name if you like zombies and want a historical and religious history of them then this book is for you.

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