Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Review: Zombies: a Field Guide to the Walking Dead

Dr. Bob Curran, 2008, Book Man Press

Much as I love my flesh-eaters, it’s refreshing to find a pop-culture zombie guide that deals almost exclusively with the traditional mythology and folk beliefs surrounding the reanimated dead, as opposed to the fairly recent embodiment of the zombie as a mindless cannibal. In this slim, beautifully illustrated volume, the author examines zombie myths from around the world and the ‘evolution’ of these tales from pre-Biblical times up until the present day, as well as the social and cultural phenomena that fed such beliefs.

There’s a great deal of interesting, apparently well-researched material here, although, in the end, I felt that perhaps the term ‘zombie’ had been whacked onto the cover as a marketing tool, as many of the undead entities described therein didn’t seem to fall under that particular banner; then again, the guide presents much information specifically intended to dispel the many misconceptions surrounding zombie mythology (the chapter on the origins of Voodou, in particular, was a real eye-opener), so perhaps I’m more mired in my preconceptions than I’d like to believe. The book also could have done with a decent line-edit before publication; that aside, however, I found this an easy and enjoyable read. Highly recommended.

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