cover image The Serpent and the Rainbow

The Serpent and the Rainbow

Wade Davis. Simon & Schuster, $35.17 (297pp) ISBN 978-0-671-50247-8

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