What real-life character inspired Bram Stoker’s classic Dracula? Did a blood-sucking demon haunt ancient Mespotamia? Did 16th-century Venetians drive a stake through the heart of a true vampire, or was something more sinister at work? For thousands of years vampires have both terrified and titillated our imaginations. Today vampires pervade our popular culture in books, films, and TV shows, and recent discoveries are shedding new light on the origins of vampire myth and legend. This fascinating history explores the myriad origins of vampire stories, providing gripping historic and folkloric context for the concept of beings who seemingly defied death and fed on the lifeblood of others. From ancient whispers in Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome, vampiric legends passed through the centuries and around the globe, fed by misconceptions about the afterlife, fear of disease, and the unshakable feeling that demons might dwell among us. The term vampire itself made its way to Europe in the 18th century, arising out of Slavic and other eastern European traditions. In 1897 Bram Stoker’s Dracula solidified the concept of a coffin-dwelling, bloodthirsty “undead” human. Today, the vampire myth is stronger than ever, and continues to fascinate the living. In Vampires Jenkins works with noted experts in the fields of archaeology, forensics, and anthropology to skillfully navigate centuries of myth and legend and weave spine-tingling tales along the way.
Mark Jenkins, former chief historian of the National Geographic Society's archives, has in all likelihood read every single article ever published in the magazine. He is the author of Worlds to Explore: Classic Tales of Travel and Adventure from National Geographic, High Adventure, an illustrated history of the National Geographic Society, and The Book of Marvels.
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