Why this book?
This was a breakthrough in our (and my) understanding of vampires as an explanation for disease in the context of pre-industrial, agrarian societies. Everyone understood that there were (and to some degree, are still) persistent folk beliefs about vampires around the world, with Slavic and Balkan variants having gained a foothold in the popular imagination. Paul Barber explains the intricacies of belief, the particulars of that folklore, and illuminates one of humanity’s oldest tendencies that lies at the root of vampire stories—to blame death on the dead. There are gruesome anecdotes aplenty and Barber explains the logistics of vampire “attacks” down to every last, bloody detail.
Why should I read it?
What is this book about?
In this engrossing book, Paul Barber surveys centuries of folklore about vampires and offers the first scientific explanation for the origins of the vampire legends. From the tale of a sixteenth-century shoemaker from Breslau whose ghost terrorized everyone in the city, to the testimony of a doctor who presided over the exhumation and dissection of a graveyard full of Serbian vampires, his book is fascinating reading.
"This study's comprehensiveness and the author's bone-dry wit make this compelling reading, not just for folklorists, but for anyone interested in a time when the dead wouldn't stay dead."-Booklist
"Barber's inquiry into vampires, fact…