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The Serpent and the Rainbow [Anglais] [Broché]

Wade Davis
5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
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Description de l'ouvrage

5 août 1997
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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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

"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

Biographie de l'auteur

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.

Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 304 pages
  • Editeur : Simon & Schuster; Édition : Reissue (5 août 1997)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0684839296
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684839295
  • Dimensions du produit: 21,8 x 14 x 1,9 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 108.138 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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Dans ce livre (En savoir plus)
Première phrase
MY FIRST MEETING with the man who would send me on my quest for the Haitian poison occurred on a damp miserable winter's day in late February 1974. Lire la première page
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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index | Quatrième de couverture
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Commentaires client les plus utiles
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Search for useful poisons in Haiti 25 novembre 2010
Wade Davis (WD)is a Canadian, Harvard-educated anthropologist, ethno-botanist and environmentalist. In 1982 he was asked by 2 key US scholars in psychiatry and psycho-pharmacy to travel to Haiti to find out more about `zombies', dead people alleged to have been resurrected from their graves to work as slaves. The scholars convinced WD that death is a tenuous concept and that the ultimate proof of death is putrefaction. But reports from Haiti suggested that some people declared dead (no breathing, heartbeat or brain activity) were buried and returned later to their communities without signs of putrefaction. How come? How can a death-like state be induced, sustained, and then be undone? WD thinks 2 types of poison might be responsible: one to turn the living into a near-dead capacity, another to undo the first poison to bring them back to reality.
WD's professor of ethno-botany at Harvard made his name by staying in the Amazon basin for 12 years rather than the one planned semester, collecting tons of medical plants, some of which turned out to be vital for pharmaceutical production, e.g. tranquillizers. His students were the Indiana Jones's of the 1950's and beyond, challenged to discover new plants able to serve as inputs for new medical drugs to improve anesthesia, psychiatric treatment, even space travel, by incapacitating people and resurrecting them at will.
This is an exceptionally well-written autobiographic account of research in Haiti to prove or dispel the notion of `zombies' and the poisons/pharmacology used to create and resurrect them. He does so by combining induction and deduction, testing book-based hypotheses from southern Nigeria in the late 18th century, its local botany and religious, Efik beliefs, with contemporary Haitian mindsets.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.4 étoiles sur 5  67 commentaires
90 internautes sur 93 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 An exploration of another world 23 mars 2002
Par Stephen A. Haines - Publié sur
Davis guides us through a fantastic world in this superb account of his investigation into Haitian "secret societies." Although outlandish at first glance, Haitian social justice and how it's administered is revealed in its deep cultural framework. The terms "voodoo" and "zombie," so ignorantly applied in our culture over the years, are clarified by this serious scholar. Davis offers much more than simply a redefinition of what media has distorted. He examines the origins and use of various toxins that are applied to put a living person in a death-like trance. This seemingly "evil" practice has deep and positive social roots. It's the social milieu that ultimately gives this book its real value. As Davis pursues botanical sources used in rendering people comatose, he is caught up in an investigation of why the drugs are used on particular individuals.
Davis' quest began with a commission to investigate anesthetic drugs from plants and animals. His mentor, Richard Schultes, was considered the founder of ethnobotany, the study of plant chemistry as a cultural artifact. Davis is sent to Haiti in 1982, a time of growing awareness of the numbers of natural products overlooked for medicinal use. Davis is sent to Haiti to investigate the zombi myths. He learns of the use of "magic powders" to bring about a catatonic state. People are declared dead, buried, but are exhumed and led away, often to a life of near slavery. Davis, using Schultes' work as background, investigates the Datura genus of plants. Datura in various species, ranges across the Western Hemisphere and is widely used by Amerindian and other peoples for various rituals. So, too, are the excretions of Bufo marinus, the Central American "cane toad," that today is the scourge of vast reaches of Australia. Its poison was adapted for various uses in Europe within years of Columbus' voyages.
This pharmocopoeia of toxins and anesthetic drugs have been a part of many cultures, but in Haiti, they prove to be a mechanism of social justice. Wade's account of the structure of Haitian society is worth the price of the book. The classic picture of hierarchical society, resembling so vividly that of our own, is dissected carefully by Davis. Haiti, with its history of dictators and oppression, foreign rule and harsh slavery so vividly depicted by North American media, retains a hidden but powerful underlying structure. While the government seems to sit dominant in Port-au-Prince, in the rural areas an almost independent organization of communities flourish. These local structures reflect accepted norms, deal with local conflict and provide an underlying enforcement mechanism for the maintenance of social order. Their foundation is derived from African roots, modified by Roman Catholic ritual, and remain unheralded except by those who decry their secretiveness. Wade argues these community establishments are not truly "secret societies," but instead reflect the needs of people for whom bombastic pronouncements have no place in their daily existence. The houngans ["vodoun priests"] are little more than Haitian parsons supporting their local populations.
Although focused on Haiti, Davis' book cannot but evoke how much we have yet to learn about other "hidden" or "clandestine" societies. If the method of "zombification" of malefactors seems extreme in our view, it may be simply because we hide our criminals away in concrete tombs at taxpayer's expense. Davis explains that no victim of zombification has been selected arbitrarily. Each situation is carefully examined to assess whether the victim has offended family or the community. Catatonic drugs are administered to render the culprit to a state where they may be transported from the community they've offended. To Davis, it's simply the quiet application of justice. Is this a technique we could apply in our own society? Probably not, since we don't possess the cultural background. But the rendering of justice at the local level for local offenses is surely something we might consider as a behavioural innovation. Davis leaves this question open, but if we engage in the type of investigation he relates, there might be other examples in other societies from which we can learn. This book offers much information and interesting examples of lives different from our own.
60 internautes sur 61 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Rich and informative 11 janvier 2003
Par Tyler Tanner - Publié sur
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.
33 internautes sur 36 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A serious, scientific look at zombies 4 mars 2000
Par ubu35 - Publié sur
Written by an ethnobotanist (a combination of a botanist and an anthropologist), this book focuses on Haiti, the secret societies within Haiti, and of course, the psychological and scientific means of making a zombie. No, Wade Davis doesn't come out and say, to make a zombie, do this, this, and this. Instead, he uses reason and logic to track down the actual processes, both social and psychological, that lead to the Haitian people's tendency to believe in them. As it's written by a scientist, the focus on Haiti's past and culture should be more expected than a flat out 'Indiana Jones goes to the tropics'. For those who've seen the movie: no, he doesn't get zombie poison blown in his face. No, he doesn't get buried alive. No, he doesn't get harassed by a corrupt police chief who cuts off peoples' heads. It's pretty down to earth. For those really interested in Haitian culture and, to some extent, voodoo, this is a perfect book to read. If you want adventure, rent the movie.
21 internautes sur 22 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A fascinating scientific adventure 21 septembre 1997
Par Wes McClain - Publié sur
In "The Serpent and the Rainbow" Ethnobotanist Wade Davis chronicles his explorations of Haitian culture and religion in what begins as a search for an actual drug used to create Zombis. As Davis delves deeper in to the Voudoun societies in search of this rumored drug, he discovers a many layered religious and social culture that raises new questions and leads to further investigations into the peasant culture of Haiti and its roots in West African religion and culture.

While not a reference work on the Voudoun religion, "The Serpent and the Rainbow" sheds new light on Voudoun practice and theology, and it's ubiquitous presence in all levels of Haitian society. This is not a horror story of "devil drums" and "Voodoo dolls" but an exploration of how history has shaped the lives and culture of the people of Haiti.

In a nutshell, this is a real life adventure that is, if anything, more entertaining, and interesting than the fictional adventures of Indiana Jones, and far more satisfying than the Wes Craven film which is loosely (very loosely) based on this book.
11 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 answers to questions 9 février 2000
Par Kevin L. Nenstiel - Publié sur
When much brouhaha was made over the U.S. invasion of Haiti a few years ago I sought out every book my small-town library had on the country, and this was it. I was hesitant because I knew the reputation of the movie, but the book turned out to be far superior (the film had only a shirt-tail relationship to the book). I'm at a moderately-sized university now that has about twenty titles specifically about Haiti in its library -- and not one is as concise or as comprehensible as Wade Davis' firsthand account of moving among the people. The elements of adventure, anthropology, and science blend well to make up a superior book for the average reader who doesn't want to wade through a whole lot of technical chatter or statistics. The ending is weak -- I wish he'd chosen Bizango or Bouvoir's cult and taken us in the directions either would have promised -- but the book on the whole is a good primer on Haiti, the culture, its people, the science and mythology, and everything you need to know to comment intelligently on the situation over there.
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