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Vampire Forensics: Uncovering the Origins of an Enduring Legend

3.39  ·  Rating Details ·  504 Ratings  ·  87 Reviews
Mark Jenkins’s engrossing history draws on the latest science, anthropological and archaeological research to explore the origins of vampire stories, providing gripping historic and folkloric context for the concept of immortal beings who defy death by feeding on the lifeblood of others. From the earliest whispers of eternal evil in ancient Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome, v ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published February 16th 2010 by National Geographic (first published January 1st 2010)
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Riku Sayuj

Takeaway tidbit:

The vampire’s very existence was an infernal parody of the resurrection, and its chief means of sustenance was a diabolical twist on Christ’s words: “Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life.”

As that shows, the book is a mostly western exploration (except for a very small section that mention other myths in passing) and fails to take into consideration that vampire myths predate christian perversions and even gothic folklore, and probably originated in Africa
Jan 17, 2013 Tiia rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
While the subject of "Vampire Forensics" was well researched and interesting, the overall reading experience suffered from the convoluted narration. Lacking in perspective and boundaries, it was excessively detailed and focused too much on historic minutia. There was no clear red threat to follow as the author aimlessly wandered from one lore to another, occasionally skipping ahead or returning to an already closed subject without much of a warning.

The tone of the narration was irritating to say
Jan 01, 2015 Stacey rated it it was ok
found this exploration into the myths and legends of vampires underwhelming, in a word.

I expected the book to delve into the historical and literary evidence for vampires, and to a certain extent, that is what the author does. However, the exploration jumps around, and at times the author doesn't explain how one factor/myth/legend/story indicates the existence of, or belief in, vampires.

In the last chapters, the author enumerates (yes, it is essentially a list) of various traditions in distant r
T. K. Elliott (Tiffany)
Apr 02, 2016 T. K. Elliott (Tiffany) rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed, biology
This book was OK. But no more than that.

If you want a well-written, coherent account of the origins of the vampire myth - or even a discussion of the various walking-corpsey-type myths available - then look elsewhere. You won't find it here.

This book reads more like a blog-published-as-book - an accumulation of short pieces written on similar topics, and then published as a book. It's interesting to read, but if it had been more organised, it would have been a better book. Not only does it jump
Aug 29, 2011 Jenn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My rating for Vampire Forensics is mostly based on the loads of factoids that I will take away from this book. Although I enjoyed it immensely, there are a few things that the potential reader should be aware of.

First, the book is slightly disorganized. The topics jump around the timeline and from one location to the next with very little warning. In addition, not only do the chapters stand alone with little connection to the others, each section of a chapter has only a tenuous connection to wh
Mar 14, 2010 Renee rated it it was ok
Screw it. I've been reading this book for two weeks now, and even though I love the topic (vampire folklore), and even though I've ruthlessly skipped the boring bits, I can't get through it.

It's too bad, because I wanted to like this. I enjoyed the beginning enough that I put it on our Staff Recommends wall (and pulled it down today in shame).

On the surface, what's not to like? Vampire Forensics purports to be a non-fiction history of the vampire myth, and unlike some of the more schlocky entri
Apr 12, 2012 Amanda rated it liked it
Written by historian Mark Jenkins, Vampire Forensics is an insightful non-fiction novel that explores the vast history of vampires. In the book, legend and lore are examined through the lens of history, archaeology, anthropology, and forensic science.

I have been studying vampires personally and professionally for more years I care to count and have read virtually every non-fiction vampire text I could get my hands on – that being said, this book revealed very little that I hadn't know already. I
May 16, 2014 Gabriel rated it liked it
There were too many cool bits of knowledge that I will pull away from this book to really mark this lower ... but for the discerning reader, there are probably significantly better tomes on the fanged menace.

Yes, reading about the fear of the dead and the numerous ways that different cultures have dealt with this fear (mostly through the removal of some body part, often the head, with dismemberment/cremation to follow) was great to learn. It was interesting as he crossed cultures for Mark Colli
Apr 29, 2016 ~☆~Autumn♥♥☽ rated it really liked it
Shelves: gross, gory, vampires
With all this spring snow I was up to three am and so finished. There are many interesting things and people are sure crazy but it was too gory. I got a laugh out of vampires being for aristocrats and werewolves being middle class. So where does that leave zombies? They are blue collar. I meant to do an NE question on that so you all could be amused too but its a wonder I am online at all with this snow so piled up.

I think in some of these cases that people were NOT dead but were buried too so
I've skimmed over half the book. I might pick it up again; I might not.

Here's the problem.

If you've read The Vampire: A Casebook or any other book about vampires, you know everything that this book is talking about.

Honestly, I also would have thought that some one working for Nat Geo would have gotten Mary Shelley's relationship to Clare Clarmont correct.

So I went back and finished it. There are better vampire studies out there. It's slightly intersting for the bit about Venice, but the last bit
Lindley Walter-smith
Nov 04, 2012 Lindley Walter-smith rated it it was ok
A messy and hurried book, full of inaccuracies (some amusing), that feels like it was thrown together to try and cash in a bit too late on the teen paranormal craze.

It has no real structure or argument. It begins with random references to vampire novels, the requisite going on about Vlad Dracul as if he was actually Dracula, and then proceeds to random accounts of every belief about undead or death rituals that the author can think of, tenuously linked to vampirism. While the vampire-related mat
Sep 29, 2012 Laudys rated it really liked it
Well... That was interesting. And that's pretty much it.

The book is brimming with information not only on vampires, but on all kinds of undead on general. I must say, though, that the information doesn't feel well connected, the author goes back and forward, back and forward and not everything feels cohesive and properly edited.

But let me tell you, with this book you'll have lots of "Did you know..." facts for that next awkward silence. I never knew the origins of vampires could be traced so fa
Faye Hollidaye
Mar 11, 2013 Faye Hollidaye rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
A very interesting, all-encompassing tale of the walking dead throughout the lands of time. I highly recommend for people who are truly interested in where today's vampire, zombie, ghost, et cetera stories, myths, and legends originated. This book will get you to the roots. I also suggest Matthew Beresford's book in accordance with this one, since his is also very-well written and if anything a little less tedious than this one.
Oct 03, 2011 Lauren rated it really liked it
Good read if you are interested in the history of where the vampire idea arose.

I found it a quick, engaging read, and I don't read many non-fiction books.

If you or your friends have an obsession with (or even kind of interest in)read this, it's well worth the time spent.

It's practically Halloween anyway...
Apr 06, 2011 DJ rated it it was amazing
What a great find! This book tries to uncover the origins and myths surrounding vampires and our present fascination with them. What was most interesting to me was how various illnesses can mimic what people think of as vampire behavior. The author really ran the world's cultures looking for vampire myths and legends. Very well written, entertaining and educational.
Jul 21, 2016 Phil rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting, but a tad too unorganized.
I concur with my fellow reviewers who stated that there was no such thing as a "red thread".
I especially enjoyed the parts about Dracula (naturally^^).
Dec 30, 2012 ѦѺ™ rated it really liked it
i recommend this book to those who are interested to find out more about the origins of the vampire lore. despite its scholarly approach, i find it readable and easy to digest. it would have been more interesting for me though if the author included some photographs.
Nov 01, 2016 Katherine rated it it was ok
Shelves: vampires, nonfiction
I loved this book until I got to page 100/chapter 4, then it lost me completely.

If you're looking for a good read about the folklore and its spread through different cultures and its impact on history, this isn't the book for you.

If you're looking for a well researched and dense read about the possible/ misunderstood cases of vampirism, then you may be interested in picking this up.

Overall, kind of disappointed...
Jan 22, 2016 Rebekah rated it really liked it
Shelves: research, non-fiction, own
First I would like to say that though this book wasn't quite what I expected (and not quite what I bought it for) it was nonetheless very interesting and quite informative. It can be confusing due to lack of organization and a meandering, wandering approach to writing.

I wanted something more along the lines of a record of vampire myths, what they did, how to stop them, etc. What I got was much more involved and often completely overshadowed the vampires and monsters themselves, getting confusing
Katherine McCarthy
There's a good mix of historical accounts, science, mythology and various opinions to make this book very engaging, compelling and entertaining to read. A little light on conclusions, however, the evidence is laid out in a way for us to draw our own conclusions. I kind of liked that.

Some of the earliest influences of the literary vampire is discussed: Polidori's "The Vampyre", de Fanu's "Carmilla", Stoker's "Dracula" and even the penny-dreadful king "Varney the Vampire" gets a mention.

I partic
Vanessa Santos
Aug 09, 2016 Vanessa Santos rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, vampires
I’ve liked vampires for a long time – maybe it began with Twilight (yes, I like Twilight – the books, not the movies), or with the Argeneau novels or some other source too far back in the past to be properly remembered. I loved, loved, loved Dracula and it’s the older versions of vampire tales that really interest me, back when they indicated horror more than paranormal romance. So this book immediately caught my attention.

I loved the beginning – a sort of trip through the evolution of the vampi
April Helms
Nov 19, 2014 April Helms rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating look at the origins of vampire lore from all around the world (or a similar manifestation). I've always considered myself tolerably well-read on vampires, but I was surprised how widespread belief in vampires - or an equivalent - was, and how long such legends have been around. This book goes into the various legends, especially the most famous Slavic-based vampires, the stories behind them and explanations as to why the seemly terrifying phenomenon occurred. Fair warning- ...more
J. McClain
Mar 20, 2013 J. McClain rated it it was amazing
"The earliest written evidence of vampire--oupir or upir, as it happens--appears in the margin of a manuscript called the book of the prophets, a copy of a work whoe original dates to 1047."

Mark Collins Jenkins' overview of the history, variations and origins of the vampire was a fascinating read. Although much has been written about Vlad Tepes and his inspiration to Bram Stoker when writing Dracula, Jenkins ventures further back, to Rome, where he makes the connection between dragons, wolves (a
Jan 28, 2016 Stephanie rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, own, history
While this makes for an interesting read, it is a light read, which is not really what I was hoping for when I picked it up. It could be that I was spoiled by my professors in college, meaning they expected quotes to be used to support arguments, sections/essays (or chapters) to be grouped around a central idea, and paragraphs to have a central idea and for them to flow from one to the next as you covered all arguable points of your topic in a logical and strong manner. None of which this book d ...more
Vampire Forensics is an entertaining book filled with factoids that attempts to explore the history of vampires. Mark Collins Jenkins cites folklore, literary characters (e.g. Dracula), anthropological, archaeological, medical (e.g. rabies, plague victims, funerary practices) and other scientific research in his search for the origins of the vampire legends. The organizational structure of the book is somewhat erratic making the path to the origin of the vampire legend somewhat obscure. This is ...more
Jun 26, 2014 Kelsey rated it liked it
This book was interesting, but it wasn't coherent at all. The author jumped from one myth to another, without considering time lines or origin. It first started talking about vampires in pop culture, then went to Vlad the Impaler, to grave diggers in the 80's, then myths and religions in the 1300's, back to settlers in America during the 1700's. Each part was interesting like I said, but I also think it was almost overly detailed and the author's main part kind of derailed until you got to anoth ...more
Jules Goud
I tried. I swear I tried.

My biggest problem with this book? Where were the forensics?

I mean, Jenkins mentioned them in passing but he never elaborated on them. This book was a history of the legend of the vampire, not the forensics of it! That was the part that I was most mad about. There was no really forensics in this book and that really didn't sit well with me.

I think that part of the problem was that I got confused in this novel a lot. It was hard to follow because you jumped all over the p
รнαяk αdvσcαтє [lєvi] diรтυяbєd wяiтєя ﴾blαckwαll'ร bαє﴿
2.5 stars, perfectly average

I was really disappointed by this book. It started out great, exploring the origins of Dracula, Varney, Nosferatu. But as the book progressed it just became about different burial techniques in ancient cultures and the rituals associated with them. Vampires stem from how cultures viewed the dead coming back to life, obviously, but it would have made more sense and been more interesting if Jenkins had started with that and then moved to fiction--if he'd followed a time
I'm a huge sucker (fnar!) for vampires (I blame Joss Whedon and Anne Rice) and, as a dedicated fan, I was already pretty familiar with lots of the theories about the rise of vampire superstitions - diseases little understood in former times, the observation of bodies without correct knowledge of decomposition, and the demonisation (literally) of former deities, practices and beliefs when converting a new territory to Christianity being just a few. While this book didn't really cover any real new ...more
Dec 31, 2015 Snogged rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was looking forward to a fun read about the origin of the vampire and how it has roots in the normal world.

That was not what I got from this book. I did get some interesting facts such as the origins of Bram Stoker's Dracula and why people would mistake corpses for vampires, especially during the plague when bodies were constantly being buried and un-earthed.

Overall, I was not impressed by the structure of this author's outline. The narrative was excessively detailed, to the point where certai
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