Shannon's Reviews > The Serpent and the Rainbow

The Serpent and the Rainbow by Wade Davis
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Jan 21, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: library
Read in January, 2009

** spoiler alert ** Hmmmm. I read a review of this book while I was reading it even tho it I knew it was a mistake to do so. Anyway - someone said that the 1st 2/3 of the book was great but the last third was dull. I agree with that assessment completely and can't help thinking if I think that b/c I read that review first. Grrrr..

Anyway. It, for me, was an odd little book. I came by it almost accidentally, as I was wandering the rows of my library and it seemed to jump out at me for some reason. I thought 'Well, I've always been curious about it and I haven't seen the movie to ruin it for me, why not?"

It is surprisingly interesting. For what it is; basically a treatise on the psychoactive properties of certain plants, to begin with anyway; it is an engaging read. Not dull or text-y in any way. But I experienced a very odd reaction while reading it. While reading it, I was engrossed and engaged. But when I stopped for whatever reason, I had little desire to pick it back up and start again. Yet when I did, I was happy that I went thru with it. I don't think I have ever had that while reading a book.

I did learn quite a bit in this book, as I think I was meant too. Certainly not everything the author may have wanted as I am quite sure most of it went right out of my head unfortunately. I have been aware of voodoo all my life and always knew it was a reality. Being open to other religions and ways of life also helped keep a somewhat open mind. Even as an animal lover, I understand in principle anyway, live sacrifice, no matter how much I may disagree with it and see it as spiritually degrading. Having said that, the author didn't quite get across to me why it is "OK" to zombify a person and that was what I began to look for about halfway thru the book. Maybe I missed it. I read the reasons given for why it could be done, but never why it was accepted as a form of corporal punishment. Maybe as one victim is described "They had become a pariah to the community" and they were therefore condemned to a time of servitude. But that just doesn't do it for me. And as I type this, I feel I may have missed the entire point of the book. Maybe the culture itself is to foreign for me to comprehend at this point in my life.


Instances of animal cruelty are numerous and considering the subject matter, to be expected. Mostly chickens but some experiments done on lab monkeys and rats bothered me only b/c the thought of lab animals is such an abhorrent idea. One particularly disturbing instance of a cat killing is also included.
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01/21/2009 page 39
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