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Ranging from the execution scaffolds of Germany and Scandinavia, through the courts and laboratories of Italy, France and Britain, to the battlefields of Holland and Ireland, and on to the tribal man-eating of the Americas, Mummies, Cannibals and Vampires argues that the real cannibals were in fact the Europeans. Picking our way through the bloodstained shadows of this remarkable secret history, we encounter medicine cut from bodies living and dead, sacks of human fat harvested after a gun battle, gloves made of human skin, and the first mummy to appear on the London stage. Lit by the uncanny glow of a lamp filled with human blood, this second edition includes new material on exo-cannibalism, skull medicine, the blood-drinking of Scandinavian executions, Victorian corpse-stroking, and the magical powers of candles made from human fat. In our quest to understand the strange paradox of routine Christian cannibalism we move from the Catholic vampirism of the Eucharist, through the routine filth and discomfort of early modern bodies, and in to the potent, numinous source of corpse medicine’s ultimate power: the human soul itself.
Now accompanied by a companion website with supplementary articles, interviews with the author, related images, summaries of key topics, and a glossary, the second edition of Mummies, Cannibals and Vampires is an essential read for anyone interested in the history of medicine, early modern history, and the darker, hidden past of European Christendom.