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The Book of Werewolves

3.48  ·  Rating Details ·  791 Ratings  ·  75 Reviews
With the shocking histories of 10 famous cases, this classic blends science, superstition, and fiction to tell the full story of the werewolves among us. The first serious academic study of lycanthropy and "blood-lust" written in English, this book draws upon a vast body of observation, myth, and lore.
Paperback, 266 pages
Published 1995 by Senate (first published 1865)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Dfordoom
Apr 23, 2008 Dfordoom rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Sabine Baring-Gould’s Book of Werewolves (which was recommended to me by several people here) was originally published in 1865. Baring-Gould treats the phenomenon of the werewolf as a psychological aberration, as essentially a delusional state. He also relates it to cannibalism, and seems to see at lest some of those so afflicted as being what we today would call serial killers. He also links it to the behaviour of the notorious Norse berserkers, who would suffer from an insane battle rage. His ...more
Christopher
I don't really have much of an interest in the supernatural. I do, however, have an intense interest in others who have an intense interest in the supernatural. A meta-interest, I suppose. I'd love to get to know someone who thinks that the Earth is a hollow shell with spaceships inside. Or someone who believes that there are aliens living in our bodies, causing us pain that can be extracted with an electronic device. Or someone who claims to have exorcised thousands of demons and keeps a posses ...more
F.R.
Apr 28, 2016 F.R. rated it it was ok
A frustrating read. Not so frustrating as to make me tear off my clothes and howl wildly at the moon, but frustrating nonetheless.

Sabine Baring-Gould relates various werewolf tales from myth and legend, and then fits into a 19th century idea of mental illness. It’s a good idea, disproving supernatural werewolves while still bringing together every single werewolf story to exist in Europe. That’s called having your unsuspecting traveller under the moonlight, and devouring him. But it doesn’t quit
...more
Ignacio Senao f
Oct 17, 2015 Ignacio Senao f rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cuando llevas pocas páginas te preguntas ¿Por qué esta en Valdemar Gótica? Pues es un ensayo del hombre lobo, debería haberlo metido en Intempestivas. Error.

Es cierto que el autor hace un recorrido por distintas épocas y zonas. Y nos muestra que el concepto es distinto según siglo o latitudes. Pero aquí viene lo interesante: nos narra historias por la que se llego a ese concepto de “Hombre Lobo”.

Estos relatos breves son terroríficos y aún más sabiendo que no es ficción del ator, sino que es la i
...more
Cwn_annwn_13
Dec 12, 2008 Cwn_annwn_13 rated it it was amazing
Written in the 1860's but still holding up to the test of time this book ranks as a classic of European lore on lycanthropy/shapeshifting in particular pertaining to werewolves. Worth its weight in gold just for the two chapters on Scandinavian wolf lore, and the idea that the viking berserkers were werewolves/shapeshifters. But besides that there is plenty of folklore on werewolves/shapeshifting in eastern Europe, France, and various other places in Europe. Also historical documentation of medi ...more
Suvi
Mar 21, 2012 Suvi rated it liked it
The structure and topics are uneven, which makes the title a bit misleading. First the author lists different mythologies and folklore (the most interesting part), but then he somehow connects Gilles de Rais to the werewolf myth without ever explaining why he chose this particular historical figure. There's very little of the author's original thoughts or arguments among the recounts of folklore and criminal cases. As interesting (and disgusting) as these cases of cannibalism and corpse mutilato ...more
Mike
Jan 02, 2014 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, history
This is probably the most famous of Sabine Baring-Gould’s many nonfiction books. While many of the others cover esoteric topics of local folklore and Church history, it is no surprise that this one still attracts modern readers. It is one of the first and still one of the best books on the topic, and is such a standard reference that many later books on werewolves and lycanthropy owe a great deal to his work. In fact the Wikipedia article on werewolves appears, to me, to paraphrase a fair amount ...more
Gary
Jun 08, 2011 Gary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reference, kindle
This is a very dry read, and you have to really want to know about werewolves to slog through it, but it is full of some very gruesome stories, indeed. Of course, "gruesome" is in the eye of the beholder. The author wrote this at around the time of the civil war in the United States, and what was considered too horrible to be printed then would be put in children's books now. (I exaggerate, but only just.)

I read this book for reference, and will probably refer to it as a source for werewolf and
...more
Vinnie
Oct 13, 2008 Vinnie rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: those who want to read about cannibals in supposedly civilized society.
The main problem with this book is that is horribly misnamed. It should be called "The Book of Cannibals". I was looking for some werewolf mythology maybe some background and origins and instead I get this detailed account of historical cannibals.

In the beginning there are a few instances where the cannibal in question believed or was believed to be a werewolf or at the very least, a shapeshiter of some sort. But by the end of the book there is three chapters in one man who liked to chop up lit
...more
Tucker
Europeans who believed they could shape-shift, generally ate children when in proper form, and were often hanged and burned when found out. Really good stuff.

“Job Fincelius relates the sad story of a farmer of Pavia, who, as a wolf, fell upon many men in the open country and tore them to pieces. After much trouble the maniac was caught, and he then assured his captors that the only difference which existed between himself and a natural wolf, was that in a true wolf the hair grew outward, whilst
...more
Víctor Antón
Se trata de una obra de divulgación. Una recopilación de casos y sucesos relacionados con el mito. El autor, al que no conocía, es uno de esos hombres polivalentes al estilo renacentista. Nos lo presenta bien Antonio José Navarro en un prólogo más sobre el autor que sobre la obra.

Podéis leer la reseña que escribí en Acercamientos: http://acercamientospoesia.blogspot.c...
April-Jane Rowan
Dec 18, 2015 April-Jane Rowan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was really interesting. It explores how fables of lycanthropy started, detailing different cultures' history and beliefs, showing how each one could have over time been twisted into stories of men turning into beasts. It also gives account of people that hunger for human flesh, becoming animalistic and labelled as 'wolves'. Some of the fables were really cool and I was especially pleased to learn more about Bluebeard, a man whose own story has also been altered over time.
It was a real
...more
Nathan Shumate
Baring-Gould spends too much time discussing "straight" serial killers of antiquity (related to his thesis that some werewolf legends were simply started by what we would today call bloodthirsty sociopaths), but this survey of the common threads of werewolf legends -- that they were evil people and devil worshipers who were granted the ability to transform at will -- is a necessary corrective to both the Hollywood notion of the infected man who is a slave to the full moon, and the current urban ...more
Daphne Vogel
A book written in 1865 by an Anglican parson who, surprisingly, throws aside the paranormal aspects in favor of theories of mental illness. Collecting folk tales from oral and written traditions, he attempts to draw lines between what we consider madmen today and the werewolf of lore - which will leave some people disappointed or confused, since about half the book is dedicated to discussing cannibals and serial killers. There's some broad assumptions made about the inferiority of other cultures ...more
Steve Cran
Jun 08, 2016 Steve Cran rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book of the Loup Garou

This book may well be dated but it presents the information in a simple to understand fashion. It sticks more to the earth than most works coming out about Werewolves these days. The Book is to the point and the author explains their salient facts and then supports them with stories and legends produced from around the world.

Anyone interested in the concept of Werewolves would do well to check out this work. It covers the mythology on lycanthropy from all over the world. It
...more
Eleanor Toland
Nov 16, 2015 Eleanor Toland rated it liked it
The Book of Were-wolves is a mixed bag, a collection of myths, folklore, first-hands accounts and medieval village gossip relating to the mythological shapeshifter. It's a rambling, uneven book. Sabine Baring-Gould interprets the term "were-wolf" very broadly - this short volume encompasses Norse berserkers, English witches said to transform into rabbits, and Gilles de Rais. Yes, the deeds of Gilles de Rais, the original Bluebeard, are the subject of multiple graphic, sensationalist chapters.

Wha
...more
Kenneth
Oct 06, 2015 Kenneth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sabine Baring-Gould published this study of lycanthropy in England in 1865 and it has been reprinted every so often ever since, deservedly. Forget all the Hollywood nonsense about a werewolf merely being a guy who turns into a wolf-monster at midnight and who can only be killed by a silver bullet. Baring-Gould's book describes the werewolf from the actual folklore of traditional Europe and elsewhere, placing it in the context of its sources in ancient classical Greek & Roman mythology, the N ...more
Nem
Jan 08, 2016 Nem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The only reason I didn't give this book 5 stars was because on the back cover, it said it was republished with its original illustrations, but apart from the picture on the front cover, there were no illustrations in the book itself!

It was a fascinating read covering many different old myths from different cultures, particularly European ones, and has prompted me to do a bit of historical research of my own, particularly from the 1900s onwards. Although this book is so old, it was not difficult
...more
Perry Whitford
Like many, I was captivated by were-wolves from the horror movies of my youth.

In The Wolf-Man he was more man than wolf, albeit exceedingly hirsute; in American Werewolf in London he suffered a full and agonizing transformation into a voracious, snapping quadruped; while in The Howling he was inadvertently cute and cuddly.

Sabine Baring-Gould's study of lycanthropy was published in 1856, long before the attendant notions of full moons and silver bullets became popular. Through his work he hoped
...more
David Fuller
Jun 06, 2012 David Fuller rated it it was amazing
Shelves: werewolves
Sabine Baring-Gould is by no means a celebrity today, but in the 19th century he brought a modern sensibility to an ancient body of superstitions: werewolf lore.

I first came across his name thanks to A Very Special Christmas, of all things. On the 1987 compilation album, among the carols recorded by the then-current crop of rock stars was "Gabriel's Message," by Sting. The liner notes credited S. Baring-Gould as the composer.

Born in 1834, the Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould was a prolific writer, compo
...more
B J Burton
This book isn’t an easy read. For one thing, it was written in 1865 which carries with it the usual problems of the writing style and idioms of a different time. For a second, there are lengthy passages in Latin and French that the reader has to translate. And finally, this is one of those free Kindle editions full of scanning errors. I know I shouldn’t complain after someone has given up their time to make a book freely available, so this isn’t a complaint, but an observation.
Having said that,
...more
Che
Dec 17, 2007 Che rated it really liked it
Shelves: werewolves
What if someone only told you the parts of all the movies they liked in which something cool happened, without the context, so you don't know who it happened to or why? All in a row, strung together, and they said it like this: "then Kataßlia strode through the wood and came apon a cabin in which slept three men, the skins of wolves laid up afore them. She betook it upon herslef to throw a glamour over the eyes of Thoreur that he might see naught her but a bobbin. Thoreur in all his befuddlement ...more
Kaida46 (deb)
Jan 06, 2016 Kaida46 (deb) rated it liked it
Very interesting collection of folklore related to the werewolf, and then diverges off to true crime and sociopathic tendencies that could lead to one believing they are a werewolf, cases of cannibalism and mass murders including the French child mass murderer, Gilles de Retz. A classic, but not for the faint hearted. Free on kindle if you can live with the typos.
Morgan Duplechin
Sep 07, 2014 Morgan Duplechin rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2014
This book was just awful. I was really hoping to enjoy it but sadly, I didn't. This was a very dry and boring read. It was almost painful to read it. If your looking for a book on werewolves I would look for a different one. This book was so boring that you I didn't learn a single thing while reading it. I'm sorry for the short review but I didn't have much to say about this book.
Benjamin Elliott
Apr 26, 2016 Benjamin Elliott rated it liked it
Shelves: owned-as-ebook
There was some pretty interesting stuff about the possible origins of werewolf legends in mythology and folk tales, along with some examples of delusions or a time when people used the idea of lycanthropy to make excuses for their crimes. However, there were several chapters at the end that covered blood thirst, cannibalism, and grave desecration in instances where no claims regarding werewolves were made at all. It seemed just to be added for the sake of providing salacious stories to boost int ...more
Ixris
Mar 25, 2012 Ixris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is less 'book of werewolves' and more 'book of folklore and serial killers and cannibals and child predators.' But it was an interesting read.

My major complaint is that it lacked a central focus. It read more like a series of essays on vaguely related topics that lost more and more of that relation the longer the book went on.

It was pretty darned interesting, though, and shined a light into what it may have been like to live in reality during medieval times, with crazy guys running around i
...more
Amanda Titter
Sep 14, 2016 Amanda Titter rated it liked it
This is quite the interesting collection of stories and myths. The author uses the first half of the book to go over the different ideas of werewolves and the second half speaks of horrible atrocities that men have committed for the love of blood.
Tim Weakley
Apr 21, 2013 Tim Weakley rated it liked it
Written as an examination of lycanthropy by the compser of Onward Christian Soldiers. He also happened to be a world class folkloreist and that shows in this book. Even though it was initially written in 1865 the author displays a surprising amount of scientific curiousity and common sense. He looks at a number of cases of wild men and supposed werewolves and uses them to create a history of the condition. He also keeps reminding his readers that there can always be other causes...mental health ...more
Harriet Brown
The Book of Were-wolves

The Book of Were-wolves by S. Baring-Gould is a book about some real people doing horrible things. It is also about superstition. You need a strong stomach to read this book.
Gerd
Dec 16, 2015 Gerd rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This would be a recommendable work, featuring more details on some of the classic werewolf cases than most modern collections do - but the free Kindle edition is riddled with scanos that turn deciphering the text into hard work.
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Sabine Baring-Gould was born in the parish of St Sidwell, Exeter on 28 January 1834. The eldest son of Edward Baring-Gould and his first wife, Sophia Charlotte (née Bond), he was named after a great-uncle, the Arctic explorer Sir Edward Sabine.Because the family spent much of his childhood travelling round Europe, most of his education was by private tutors. He only spent about two years in formal ...more
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“...Under the veil of Mythology lies a solid Reality.” 4 likes
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