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In Search of Dracula: The History of Dracula and Vampires

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The true story behind the legend of Dracula - a biography of Prince Vlad of Transylvania, better known as Vlad the Impaler. This revised edition now includes entries from Bram Stoker's recently discovered diaries, the amazing tale of Nicolae Ceausescu's attempt to make Vlad a national hero, and an examination of recent adaptations in fiction, stage and screen.


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The true story behind the legend of Dracula - a biography of Prince Vlad of Transylvania, better known as Vlad the Impaler. This revised edition now includes entries from Bram Stoker's recently discovered diaries, the amazing tale of Nicolae Ceausescu's attempt to make Vlad a national hero, and an examination of recent adaptations in fiction, stage and screen.

30 review for In Search of Dracula: The History of Dracula and Vampires

  1. 3 out of 5

    Paul Haspel

    In Romania, Dracula seems to be everywhere. By some, he is considered a national hero for defending his homeland against the invading Ottoman forces -- even if, in the process, he impaled an unknown but undeniably substantial number of victims. The bloody-minded and undeniably real Wallachian prince Vlad Ţepeş -- or Vlad the Impaler, or Vlad II Dracula -- shows up at sites throughout Romania: the Borgo Pass that connects the historical regions of Transylvania and Moldavia; the cities of Sibiu an In Romania, Dracula seems to be everywhere. By some, he is considered a national hero for defending his homeland against the invading Ottoman forces -- even if, in the process, he impaled an unknown but undeniably substantial number of victims. The bloody-minded and undeniably real Wallachian prince Vlad Ţepeş -- or Vlad the Impaler, or Vlad II Dracula -- shows up at sites throughout Romania: the Borgo Pass that connects the historical regions of Transylvania and Moldavia; the cities of Sibiu and Braşov, where the local German Saxons often experienced Dracula's wrath; atmospheric Bran Castle, a virtual Ground Zero for Dracula tourism; and down through Vlad Dracula's actual Wallachian realm in what is now southern Romania. The modern-day tourist who travels to Romania in search of all things Dracula will not be disappointed. Interestingly, it is entirely possible that none of that Dracula tourism would be a feature of modern Romania's cultural landscape if not for the book In Search of Dracula. Written collaboratively by Boston College scholars Raymond T. McNally and Radu Florescu (one American, one Romanian) and originally published in 1972, In Search of Dracula was the first book to draw a direct link between the Prince Dracula of history and the Count Dracula of Bram Stoker's novel Dracula (1897), who has gone on to become a ubiquitous presence in film, television, and popular culture generally. Today, we take the link between the historical and fictive Draculas for granted; in 1972, it was quite a new thing, and anyone with an interest in Dracula and vampires owes a debt of gratitude to McNally and Florescu. The book's subtitle -- The History of Dracula and Vampires -- provides an accurate sense of its trajectory. The early part of In Search of Dracula relates the fictive Dracula to the real-life Vlad Dracula (McNally and Florescu describe in Chapter 2 an expedition that they undertook to find the real Castle Dracula; Stoker's wonderful novel notwithstanding, it is nowhere near the Borgo Pass of northern Romania). Chapters 3 through 9 chronicle the life, the bloody reign, and the violent death of Vlad Dracula. After a brief look at Old World vampire folklore, the authors then examine the manner in which Bram Stoker conducted thorough research regarding Dracula and vampire stories in preparation for writing Dracula, and then go on to consider Dracula on stage, in fiction, and in film. When I first read In Search of Dracula, I found the author's invocation of the tangled politics of Vlad Dracula's time somewhat confusing. Now that I have lived in Hungary and traveled in Romania, I found that part of the book, on a second reading, much more understandable. Many readers will already know that Vlad II Dracula's father, Vlad I Dracul, gained the nickname "Dracul" ("the dragon") because of his membership in the Order of the Dragon, a Christian chivalric order organized to resist Ottoman incursions into Europe; the "-a" in Dracula's name is a diminutive, and thus "Dracula" literally means "son of the dragon." Not that there's going to be a major movement to start referring to Vlad Ţepeş as Vlad Dragonson or anything, but it's still interesting to know. One impression I got from these portions of the book was that, when Vlad Dracula carried out his acts of impalement against his many victims, he no doubt knew that word of his cruelty would spread widely -- a possible deterrent to potential enemies, and a grim convergence of sadism and Realpolitik. In Dracula's own time, the sight of a "forest" of impalement victims was enough to cause Mehmet II, the Ottoman sultan who had taken Constantinople, to end his invasion of Wallachia and return home; and more than 500 years later, those true stories of the horrors inflicted by Dracula still echo down the ages. From the bloodthirsty voivode of Wallachia to the blood-drinking vampire of Stoker's novel and endless films, McNally and Florescu guide us in a manner that is horrifying and compelling, right down through an account of how the Romanian communist dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu may have identified with the historical Dracula during the long grim years of the Cold War. The book is well-illustrated with maps, engravings, paintings, photographs, and film stills. Helpful supplements include original German, Russian, and Romanian stories about Dracula; for the Germans, who remembered Vlad Dracula's brutal actions against the Saxons of Sibiu (German name, Hermannstadt) and Braşov (German name, Kronstadt), Dracula is an unreasoning psychopath; for the Russians and Romanians, Dracula is depicted somewhat more sympathetically, as a harsh ruler in a harsh time. There is also a filmography that lets the reader know of Dracula and vampire films that include the good (few), the mediocre (many), and the bad (very many). There is even a travel guide that lets the reader know of opportunities for Dracula tourism in England, Scotland, Ireland, and (of course) Romania. This updated edition of In Search of Dracula was published in 1994. Another update might be welcome; I would be interested, for example, in hearing the authors' thoughts regarding Shadow of the Vampire, the 2000 film that imagines F.W. Murnau, director of the classic Dracula film Nosferatu (1922), hiring an actual vampire to play the film's Dracula character and suffering the consequences. But the book is great as it is, setting forth as it does the grim saga of a cruel medieval ruler whose life story evolved into the undying legend of an undead monster. For anyone with an interest in Dracula and vampires, In Search of Dracula is essential.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Poo1987 Roykaew

    A very good introduction to both historical figure of Dracula and knowledge of vampirism. Contained a short biography of Bram Stoker, his work ,and its impact on popular culture. Studied by two experts who spends most of their lifetime professions for investigating the dark history of the man known for his cruelty as 'the Imparler'. Based on ancient manuscripts, folklores, and field study of Transylvania, those efforts come out of excited-reading, well-written text which brings, Vlad Tepes, Prin A very good introduction to both historical figure of Dracula and knowledge of vampirism. Contained a short biography of Bram Stoker, his work ,and its impact on popular culture. Studied by two experts who spends most of their lifetime professions for investigating the dark history of the man known for his cruelty as 'the Imparler'. Based on ancient manuscripts, folklores, and field study of Transylvania, those efforts come out of excited-reading, well-written text which brings, Vlad Tepes, Prince of Wallachia, or known as Dracular back to life, and also his struggle, politics, and context of fifteenth-centuried Eastern Europe threatened by Ottoman Turk and Roman Catholics. I think the most interesting part is about vampirism and its folk beliefs. It is almost shocked for knowing that killing victims by biting their throats and sucking blood is real event by hands of aristocrat families. I became aware of my limited historical knowledge and wanted to read more and more. This book is a good example of cultural history presenting you that there are always more interesting studied subjects than those presented by boring school textbooks.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Stacia

    A very fascinating book for fans of Dracula, esp. if you are interested in the history behind the real figure (Vlad Tepes), locations, etc.... Part history, part folklore, part opinion, this book has a nice variety of information. In addition to the historical sections about Romania & the Dracula family, I also enjoyed the section on Bram Stoker, his research, & other books that have been variations on the Dracula/vampire legends. The film section was fine (but I haven't seen any of the f A very fascinating book for fans of Dracula, esp. if you are interested in the history behind the real figure (Vlad Tepes), locations, etc.... Part history, part folklore, part opinion, this book has a nice variety of information. In addition to the historical sections about Romania & the Dracula family, I also enjoyed the section on Bram Stoker, his research, & other books that have been variations on the Dracula/vampire legends. The film section was fine (but I haven't seen any of the films mentioned, so it wasn't entirely applicable to me). That said, between the sections on the mass murders & extreme cruelty of Vlad Tepes and Elizabeth Bathory, real life is much scarier & horrific than fiction. Dracula, the vampire character, seems tame in comparison to these blood-thirsty sadists of history. There is definitely some disturbing information in this book. The extensive bibliography is wonderful. I do wish there had been more/better maps. Overall, highly-recommended for Dracula fans. ---------------- (Earlier comments while I was reading the book...) Still in progress, but I'm finding this to be a bizarre, creepy, & riveting history book. For those interested in some of the history of Dracula (the real, historical person, not the vampire), a few quotes from In Search of Dracula: The History of Dracula and Vampires... "The names of Dracula and his father, Dracul, are of such importance in this story that they require a precise explanation. Both father and son had the given name Vlad. The names Dracul and Dracula and variations thereof in different languages (such as Dracole, Draculya, Dracol, Draculea, Draculios, Draculia, Tracol) are really nicknames. What's more, both nicknames had two meanings. Dracul meant "devil," as it still does in Romanian today; in addition it meant "dragon." In 1431, the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund invested Vlad the father with the Order of the Dragon, a semimonastic, semi-military organization dedicated to fighting the Turkish infidels. Dracul in the sense of dragon stems from this. It also seems probable that when the simple, superstitious peasants saw Vlad the father bearing the standard with the dragon symbol they interpreted it as a sign that he was in league with the devil." (Again, referring to the historical figure of Dracula...) "The progressive popularization of the Dracula story, however, was due to the coincidence of the invention of the printing press in the second half of the fifteenth century and the production of cheap rag paper. The first Dracula news sheet destined for the public at large was printed in 1463 in either Vienna or Wiener Neustadt. Later, money-hungry printers saw commercial possibilities in such sensational stories and continued printing them for profit. This confirms the fact that the horror genre conformed to the tastes of the fifteenth-century reading public as much as it does today. We suspect that Dracula narratives became bestsellers in the late fifteenth century, some of the first pamphlets with a nonreligious theme. One example of the many unsavory but catchy titles is: The Frightening and Truly Extraordinary Story of a Wicked Blood-thirsty Tyrant Called Prince Dracula. No fewer than thirteen different fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Dracula stories have been discovered thus far in the various German states within the former empire. Printed in Nuremberg, Lubeck, Bamberg, Augsburg, Strasbourg, Hamburg, etc., many of them exist in several editions." And, just as I was thinking the same thing, the authors state... "The deeds attributed to Dracula in the German narratives are so appalling that the activities of Stoker's bloodsucking character seem tame by comparison." Indeed. I believe that may be an understatement. And, on an interesting side note, I saw this portrait (Petrus Gonsalvus) & two of his "wolf children" in the book: Wondering why this portrait would be in a book about Dracula?... "Ironically, the only existing life-size portrait of Dracula is at Castle Ambras near Innsbruck. Ferdinand II, Archduke of the Tyrol, who owned Castle Ambras during the sixteenth century, had a perverse hobby of documenting the villains and deformed personalities of history. He sent emissaries all over Europe to collect their portraits and reserved a special room in the castle for displaying them. It made no difference whether the subjects were well known or comparatively obscure. What did matter was that they were actual human beings, not fictional ones. If such persons could be found alive, the archduke tried to settle them, at least temporarily, at his court, where paintings could be made of them on the spot. A few giants, a notorious dwarf, and the wolfman from the Canary Islands stayed on at Castle Ambras for some years. Dracula was already dead by the time this degenerate Hapsburg began his hobby, but the prince's reputation as a mass murderer was already largely established in the Germanic world because of the tales told by the Saxons of Transylvania. We do not know how or where Ferdinand's portrait of Dracula was painted or who the artist was."

  4. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    This is one entertaining volume, one I can refer back to time and time again. The writers give a very matter-of-fact account of the life and times of Vlad Tepes, occasionally laced with a bit of wry humor, and relate the legends that have grown around ye olde impaler. From there, they take us through Bram Stoker and his background, and on to the celluloid versions of Dracula, all without pausing for breath...and happily so. My favorite bits are the various legends about Prince Vlad told from sev This is one entertaining volume, one I can refer back to time and time again. The writers give a very matter-of-fact account of the life and times of Vlad Tepes, occasionally laced with a bit of wry humor, and relate the legends that have grown around ye olde impaler. From there, they take us through Bram Stoker and his background, and on to the celluloid versions of Dracula, all without pausing for breath...and happily so. My favorite bits are the various legends about Prince Vlad told from several points of view, and how they compare with each other. Very revealing, and always entertaining. Great fun for vampire afficionados and "serious" devotees alike.

  5. 3 out of 5

    Tessa

    I love this book. It's the historical account of the real Dracula (Vlad Tepes). Historians Radu Florescu and Raymond McNally reconstruct the historical man and how he is related to the vampire legend. This is also just a groundbreaking history book--it's the first ever historical account of Vlad the Impaler, and I think it's extremely significant.

  6. 3 out of 5

    William G.

    I first read the original 1972 edition of In Search of Dracula back in high school when I first began to really explore the backstory of the character and novel Dracula. As a young child I became fixated on old horror films and Dracula being one of my absolute favorite fixations. Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Lon Chaney Jr., John Carradine, Frank Langella. I had seen them all and then some and I became completely hooked! As I grew older, I learned more about where the idea of the story came from I first read the original 1972 edition of In Search of Dracula back in high school when I first began to really explore the backstory of the character and novel Dracula. As a young child I became fixated on old horror films and Dracula being one of my absolute favorite fixations. Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Lon Chaney Jr., John Carradine, Frank Langella. I had seen them all and then some and I became completely hooked! As I grew older, I learned more about where the idea of the story came from and I sought every resource at my disposal to assimilate every factoid and tidbit possible. One of the very first books I was able to acquire was In Search of Dracula. I don't remember a great deal about that edition other than it kept me mesmerized until I had finished it and it became a great resource for determining where I would go next in my explorations. Fast forward a decade or so and I am a bit older, but my interest in the subject of Dracula in all forms, historical and literary, has not waned much at all. I had read many more books. I had seen quite a few documentaries. And in the interim, I had even traveled to Romania to see much of what remains of the historical figure first hand. Yes it is safe to say I was still hooked! Well imagine my surprise when I am walking through the book store one day and I see a copy of In Search of Dracula on the bookshelf! I always wanted a copy of the book, but I had long given up hope of finding one, being that the original had long since been out-of-print. To see that the work had been updated and revised excited me greatly as I knew much had been discovered about both Dracula the figure and Dracula the character since the time of the original in the 1970s. I instantly purchased it and I am so glad I did! It proved to be every bit as exciting to read as the original! Like the original, the updated edition is not an overly scholarly work like the authors' other work Dracula: Prince of Many Faces. It is intended to provide a general and fairly well-rounded body of knowledge to a general audience of individuals with a casual interest in the subject matter. Is the book as exciting as a Stephen King novel? Not by a long shot, but the authors do make efforts to present the information contained within in a readable and somewhat entertaining fashion. The books contains a fair amount of information on the connection between Bram Stoker's novel Dracula and Vlad the Impaler, who served as the inspiration for the story. Some history relating to both aspects are covered along with bits and pieces of vampire folklore and discussions of the character of Dracula in pop culture. For me one of my favorite aspects of both this and the original editions were the stories told towards the end of the book. Taken from Romanian, German and Russian sources, the tales of Vlad's exploits read like the synopsis of a modern horror film and give a great insight into just what type of person the known as "The Impaler" was! I highly recommend this book for anyone with a casual and not overly scholastic interest in the subject of the fictional Dracula or Vlad the Impaler. Not a book I immediately wanted to read again, but certain on the list for somewhere down the road!

  7. 3 out of 5

    Thomas Strömquist

    An old favorite of mine that would be in small pieces if I wasn't lucky enough to snag a hardcover copy; it was one of my few sources for horror fix (others being Stoker's book, Sam J. Lundwall's translations of H P Lovecraft shorts and Poe). This historical/documentary book focuses on the real life Vlad Tepes and what little is known about him (much of the research made by the authors). A small section of the book regard the vampire and related legends and stories in popular culture. I really ca An old favorite of mine that would be in small pieces if I wasn't lucky enough to snag a hardcover copy; it was one of my few sources for horror fix (others being Stoker's book, Sam J. Lundwall's translations of H P Lovecraft shorts and Poe). This historical/documentary book focuses on the real life Vlad Tepes and what little is known about him (much of the research made by the authors). A small section of the book regard the vampire and related legends and stories in popular culture. I really cannot recommend this book enough, it is absolutely spellbinding and brings some perspective to roots and mechanisms into the vampire myths. On a side note I would say that everything from the 1400's up to 1972 is so far from Twilight that you will have to find another book to make the connection. This book was made in to a (Swedish produced) feature-length movie in 1975, it is available in original version here and in English (only the edited TV version) here. The movie largely ignores the structure of the book and focuses much more on vampire in popular culture, but it's still worth watching and a fascinating document of a time in history.

  8. 3 out of 5

    Tassie

    I am a sucker (ha!) for a vampire book. This is one of the first research works into the Dracula mythology, the book that cements the fact that Stoker's Dracula was, in fact, based on Vlad Tepes of Romania. That the real-life Dracula committed horrific crimes against humanity is unquestionable. The book itself is 200 pages of history, literary and film exploration, and some interpretation. The other hundred pages is bibliography, filmography, maps, family trees, and other appendix-typical info. The I am a sucker (ha!) for a vampire book. This is one of the first research works into the Dracula mythology, the book that cements the fact that Stoker's Dracula was, in fact, based on Vlad Tepes of Romania. That the real-life Dracula committed horrific crimes against humanity is unquestionable. The book itself is 200 pages of history, literary and film exploration, and some interpretation. The other hundred pages is bibliography, filmography, maps, family trees, and other appendix-typical info. There are times when it's obvious the writers are historians of some form or another, as the writing doesn't necessarily flow off the page the way one might like. But the information (which has been worked into many a book since its initial publication in the 1970s) is well researched and necessary for anyone who fancies themselves a connoisseur of vampire novels.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Greta is Erikasbuddy

    I really enjoyed this book. My favorite part was the chapter about the movies/pop culture. And the chapter about vampire myths. I personally had no idea that after 7 years of being a vampire you could move to another country that spoke another language and turn back into a human. Then you can get married and have kids. The downside is that when your kids die they become vampires. But seriously... that is cool! You also learn about real life vampires. For example: Sweeney Todd was based on the Hanover I really enjoyed this book. My favorite part was the chapter about the movies/pop culture. And the chapter about vampire myths. I personally had no idea that after 7 years of being a vampire you could move to another country that spoke another language and turn back into a human. Then you can get married and have kids. The downside is that when your kids die they become vampires. But seriously... that is cool! You also learn about real life vampires. For example: Sweeney Todd was based on the Hanover Vampire of the 1920s. This book teaches you a history lesson on the Dracula the OG - Vlad the Imapaler. And is up to date on stuff until around 1992. So, Twilight isn't mentioned. The Vampire Diaries are mentioned but there are only 3 books when this was printed. The pictures are great too! *Vampires that Greta recommends that aren't in the book* Only Lovers Left Alive - movie that has Tom Hiddleston shirtless Kresley Cole's vampires in her books Hotel Transylvania - Kid movie Let me In - movie about a kid vampire but not a kid movie Underworld - movie also has werewolves All in all ... this is a great reference book if you are looking for a book or a movie. There are lists of both. Also, a great book to learn about the OG Dracula And the pictures will make you want to visit Romania to find vampires and stuff.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nemanja Jovanovic

    This is an extraordinary book about the man, who's name has become a symbol for vampires... I want to thank to Raymond McNally and Radu Floresku for writing it... It was really interesting to me and very helpful. On the end, you have list of historical and fictional films and books about Vlad III.

  11. 3 out of 5

    Meredith Watkins

    I do love reading the history of where my ancestors came from. Interesting read

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jacki

    I only got about 8 pages into chapter 2 before I stopped reading... I was very excited to read this book because it's getting close to Halloween and I love learning about the history and inspiration behind the various traditions. Vlad Tepes was a very controversial figure in history depending on what side you were on, and I was looking forward to learning more about him and why the people of Transylvania and Romania view him as a hero when much of the world sees him only as the viscious and ruth I only got about 8 pages into chapter 2 before I stopped reading... I was very excited to read this book because it's getting close to Halloween and I love learning about the history and inspiration behind the various traditions. Vlad Tepes was a very controversial figure in history depending on what side you were on, and I was looking forward to learning more about him and why the people of Transylvania and Romania view him as a hero when much of the world sees him only as the viscious and ruthless Vlad the Impaler. I was really disappointed that the authors were more like fanboys than researchers; they never once referred to Vlad Tepes by his real name, it was always "Dracula this" and "Dracula that," even when they were talking about actual recorded history of Prince Vlad. It was like the couldn't get past the myth of the blood-sucking fictional character. Honestly, I found the whole thing somewhat disrespectful and stopped reading.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lynn K.

    It was interesting to see how Stoker used real world events, people, and places (along with myths and rumor) as a basis for his novel.

  14. 3 out of 5

    Marie

    If you're interested in knowing more about vampires and Dracula in particular, this is the book for you.

  15. 3 out of 5

    Matthew

    This books covers the history of Vlad Tepes (Order of the Dragon (or Dracul)) and then goes on to explain how Bram Stoker took the figure of Tepes and converted him into a horror figure. A nice quick read that provides some really interesting tidbits on: the history of what became Romania in the times immediately after the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks, the differing accounts of Tepes (Ethnic Germans, who ran afoul of his trade policies, demonized him as “The Impaler”; Romanians gl This books covers the history of Vlad Tepes (Order of the Dragon (or Dracul)) and then goes on to explain how Bram Stoker took the figure of Tepes and converted him into a horror figure. A nice quick read that provides some really interesting tidbits on: the history of what became Romania in the times immediately after the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks, the differing accounts of Tepes (Ethnic Germans, who ran afoul of his trade policies, demonized him as “The Impaler”; Romanians glorified him as crusader savior of an area about to be conquered by the Turks; and Russians focused on his crushing of Boyar resistance (Ivan the Terrible was inspired by Vlad.) and his leaving of the Orthodox Church for Roman Catholicism.); and the emergence of the myth of the vampire from the combination of peasant superstition and warping of oral tales told about the abuses of sadistic nobles (Vlad as well as Elizabeth Bathory of bathing in maidens’ blood infamy.). Interesting Tidbits from In Search of Dracula: • The abuses of common people seen under Vlad and other crusaders (Vlad, for instance, impaled not only Turks but his own people; he also, on occasion, flayed them, burned them to death, and enslaved them for building projects. (In another account he had the turbans of Turkish emissaries nailed to their heads, as they would not uncover their heads before a ruler. He did this, even though he was well aware of the Muslim custom of keeping the head covered, to send a message to the Sultan that he would not be cowed; the incident, nonetheless, is indicative of his sadism.) did not weigh upon the minds of these individuals as they believed that later efforts, especially construction of churches and monasteries, would absolve them of their sins. Reading this in this context made certain things “click” for me, especially the importance of the Reformation of changing the Western way of thinking (Post Luther, and reactive Counter-Reformation, even those not of the good works AND faith mindset would think twice about their fate in the next life before ordering atrocities. Also, as there was not a Reformation in the Orthodox world, it goes to show how Eastern European figures could maintain the Absolutist mindset when ruling.)

  16. 3 out of 5

    Gerry Germond

    Nothing like owning a paperback for forty years before finally getting around to reading it. This seems to have been one of the first recountings of the life of the original "Count Dracula," actually known as Vlad Tepes, or "Vlad the Impaler," who makes the legendary vampire look like a model of decorum. The authors, Raymond T. McNally and Radu Florescu, in ten years of research looked at medieval (15th and 16th century) source documents), interviewed natives, and tramped over historical grounds Nothing like owning a paperback for forty years before finally getting around to reading it. This seems to have been one of the first recountings of the life of the original "Count Dracula," actually known as Vlad Tepes, or "Vlad the Impaler," who makes the legendary vampire look like a model of decorum. The authors, Raymond T. McNally and Radu Florescu, in ten years of research looked at medieval (15th and 16th century) source documents), interviewed natives, and tramped over historical grounds, finding what was likely his historical castle. Vlad's father was known as the Dragon, Dracul, which was either an honorific or a nickname, and so the son was known by a derivative, Dracula. Vlad was an in-and-out prince of Wallachia and a sadistic murderer who would scare even the Marquis de Sade. I mean, the guy was brutal! I would seriously rather live under Hitler. Vlad was a contemporary of the Borgias, a fearsome foe of the Ottoman Turks, and eventually killed in battle, aged 45. The book also looks at his metamorphosis into a vampire and the history of the Dracula novel and vampire literature and filmography up to 1972 (but no mention of Dark Shadows!) Interesting stuff, not bedtime stories for the kids, but there is likely newer stuff out now.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ari Eris

    This little book about the historical background and artistic legacy Bram Stoker's Dracula may be a little out-dated but it still made for some interesting reading. My favorite part of the book covers the historical Dracula, a 15th-century monarch who enjoyed shifty politics and capital punishment. The story of the search for the king's tomb and his castle were intriguing, but since this book was published in 1994 it'll be up to you (and Wikipedia) to ferret out any current research and discover This little book about the historical background and artistic legacy Bram Stoker's Dracula may be a little out-dated but it still made for some interesting reading. My favorite part of the book covers the historical Dracula, a 15th-century monarch who enjoyed shifty politics and capital punishment. The story of the search for the king's tomb and his castle were intriguing, but since this book was published in 1994 it'll be up to you (and Wikipedia) to ferret out any current research and discoveries. The least interesting chapter is the review of vampires in film, etc. since Dracula, mostly because its outdated and nothing that hasn't been said before. Here and there I would find some other faults with the book - it is a little surprising how readily the authors trust the accusations of vampirism hurled at Elizabeth Bathory - but if you read this book with a critical eye and a grain of salt, I think you'll still enjoy it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jean-Pierre Vidrine

    I might have enjoyed this book even more had I not already known so much about the subject matter. Still, though, there were some genuine revelations and quite a lot of fascinating information to learn here. Now, here is where I nitpick just a little. Being a comic book fan, I could not help but notice the authors' complete ignorance of the medium here. There is not one mention of Dracula and vampires in comic books at all. This might seem like a gripe from an angry fanboy, but I do not think th I might have enjoyed this book even more had I not already known so much about the subject matter. Still, though, there were some genuine revelations and quite a lot of fascinating information to learn here. Now, here is where I nitpick just a little. Being a comic book fan, I could not help but notice the authors' complete ignorance of the medium here. There is not one mention of Dracula and vampires in comic books at all. This might seem like a gripe from an angry fanboy, but I do not think that it makes much sense that in a scholarly work on Dracula and vampires that devotes space to films the authors admit are terrible, a Sesame Street Muppet, and a cereal box mascot that they should ignore outright the medium that gave us such superb works as Tomb of Dracula and others. Admittedly, the topic of vampires in comics could fill its own scholarly volume, but it should have gotten some attention here. If nothing else the book is a good introduction to exploring the history of Vlad the Impaler, vampire lore, and vampire fiction.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sistermagpie

    I've had a galley of this book sitting on my shelf for years. Every time I considered giving it away I held on thinking I really would like to read it--now I finally did and it was worth hanging on to it. There's not a lot here about Dracula in art. It's really more at the end of the book that it gives an overview of the many many vampire stories that we're still familiar with today. Most of the book is about the actual vampire Vlad Tepes, the Impaler, Dracula. I didn't know that much about him, I've had a galley of this book sitting on my shelf for years. Every time I considered giving it away I held on thinking I really would like to read it--now I finally did and it was worth hanging on to it. There's not a lot here about Dracula in art. It's really more at the end of the book that it gives an overview of the many many vampire stories that we're still familiar with today. Most of the book is about the actual vampire Vlad Tepes, the Impaler, Dracula. I didn't know that much about him, and to say he led an interesting life is an understatement. He certainly gives his fictional counterpart a run for his money in terms of being larger than life--and often terrifying. I really enjoyed everything I learned about the world he lived in and his place in it. But I'm certainly glad I never had to live as one of his subjects, much less go to one of his parties.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    A brisk history of the real man behind the Dracula legend, his family and the repercussions of his rule, along with notes about the books, songs, poems, plays and films he has inspired. Very interesting, and very well researched. Florescu is a native Romanian whose many times great grandfather was one of the assassins involved in killing Dracula, so he has strong personal connections to the history as well. I was fascinated by the 15th century German tabloids featuring Dracula drinking his enemi A brisk history of the real man behind the Dracula legend, his family and the repercussions of his rule, along with notes about the books, songs, poems, plays and films he has inspired. Very interesting, and very well researched. Florescu is a native Romanian whose many times great grandfather was one of the assassins involved in killing Dracula, so he has strong personal connections to the history as well. I was fascinated by the 15th century German tabloids featuring Dracula drinking his enemies blood, and by the fact that until the 1980's, no one outside of Romania seemed to know he had really existed. He built fifteen monasteries and three castles, many of them still standing . . . how did people not know this? Also, he was technically world famous during his life, with stories of his grisly exploits appearing in numerous languages all over the world.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Perry Lake

    This was one of the first books to link the novel "Dracula" to the historical Vlad the Impaler. It was certainly the most influential. Not only does this book give an excellent biography of the psychopathic Romanian warlord, but it delves into authentic vampire folklore and vampire literature, especially Bram Stoker's work. It even includes a chapter on the infamous Countess Bathory. This is the essential book for anyone wanting to research Dracula, vampires, or Vlad the Impaler because it cover This was one of the first books to link the novel "Dracula" to the historical Vlad the Impaler. It was certainly the most influential. Not only does this book give an excellent biography of the psychopathic Romanian warlord, but it delves into authentic vampire folklore and vampire literature, especially Bram Stoker's work. It even includes a chapter on the infamous Countess Bathory. This is the essential book for anyone wanting to research Dracula, vampires, or Vlad the Impaler because it covers them all! Over the years I've consulted this work many times and I still rely on it for reference, especially in my own books. In all that time, I've found only one or two points that might be corrected. Check out my own Dracula books here

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lynne Cantwell

    I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. The authors have written an engaging history of Vlad the Impaler and his family, of Bram Stoker, and of Dracula's impact on popular culture. I was interested to learn that the real Vlad didn't live in Transylvania; his castle was actually in Wallachia, and his military exploits occurred up and down the Danube. Stoker put his story in Transylvania for his own dramatic purposes. Another fun fact to know and tell: Bela Lugosi didn't speak English at al I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. The authors have written an engaging history of Vlad the Impaler and his family, of Bram Stoker, and of Dracula's impact on popular culture. I was interested to learn that the real Vlad didn't live in Transylvania; his castle was actually in Wallachia, and his military exploits occurred up and down the Danube. Stoker put his story in Transylvania for his own dramatic purposes. Another fun fact to know and tell: Bela Lugosi didn't speak English at all. He learned all his lines phonetically. The section on popular culture is looking a little hoary -- no sparkly vampires in this edition of the book -- but that's a minor criticism. In all, it was an entertaining read.

  23. 3 out of 5

    Stephen

    This was one of those books that our little goup of ragamuffin kids secretly sought out at the 'grown-ups' section of the public library that was attached to our elementary school. We could never check it out because of our age, but we could learn some interesting things about the 'real' Dracula. This was, in effect, the first history book I ever saw! I recently skimmed the book and I think the work holds up fairly well considering that there are now ten different weekly ghost hunting or world's This was one of those books that our little goup of ragamuffin kids secretly sought out at the 'grown-ups' section of the public library that was attached to our elementary school. We could never check it out because of our age, but we could learn some interesting things about the 'real' Dracula. This was, in effect, the first history book I ever saw! I recently skimmed the book and I think the work holds up fairly well considering that there are now ten different weekly ghost hunting or world's scariest shows on cable every week covering the same material Radu did over 35 years ago. Radu showed those camera crews how it's done, and he did it while standing up to the entire Soviet system.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia June Long

    Neither a history of Vlad the Impaler nor a collection of vampire folklore but a survey of the history and evolution of the Dracula character. Best part was the copious (warning: gruesome) details about additional atrocities committed by the "Blood Countess" Countess Elizabeth Bathory, which I have not seen elsewhere. Bonus: Includes travel guide. Annotated bibliography and filmography. Will likely be of interest to pop-culture aficionados but not helpful for scholars/history-lovers. No Index :- Neither a history of Vlad the Impaler nor a collection of vampire folklore but a survey of the history and evolution of the Dracula character. Best part was the copious (warning: gruesome) details about additional atrocities committed by the "Blood Countess" Countess Elizabeth Bathory, which I have not seen elsewhere. Bonus: Includes travel guide. Annotated bibliography and filmography. Will likely be of interest to pop-culture aficionados but not helpful for scholars/history-lovers. No Index :-( No Endnotes/Footnotes. Additional anecdote: Russian historical sources written during the time of Ivan the Terrible are more concerned about Vlad's conversion from Orthodoxy to Catholicism than for his violent autocratic rule.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Shelly Bajwa

    I inherited this book from my Grandfather when I was 11 and I read this before I had the chance to read Bram Stoker's Dracula. well, what better way to praise the book.than to say that when I did eventually read Dracula, I was well armed with knowledge and the various back stories to the elusive creature. It was through this book that I could finally see why Vlad Tepes 3 or Vlad the Impaler could be marked a vampire. His crazy murderous rampage and then some have marked him as a creature doomed I inherited this book from my Grandfather when I was 11 and I read this before I had the chance to read Bram Stoker's Dracula. well, what better way to praise the book.than to say that when I did eventually read Dracula, I was well armed with knowledge and the various back stories to the elusive creature. It was through this book that I could finally see why Vlad Tepes 3 or Vlad the Impaler could be marked a vampire. His crazy murderous rampage and then some have marked him as a creature doomed to be a parasite till eternity and it's a fun read for anyone who wants to delve deep into the vampire lore. I gave this 4 and a half, although it only allows full stars so 5 it is!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Shaeri

    I would say this book was OKAY. I like reading history and it is commendable the amount of work and expenses put in to find out about a legendary figure. The book started well, however it spent quite a few chapters on war wit Turks. I wish there was more about surrounding myths or at what point does Vlad becomes a Dracula. Guess the legends have grown too much in comparison with the real man behind them. Vlad seems to be a warlord who enjoyed war and death. There has been a montion that his chil I would say this book was OKAY. I like reading history and it is commendable the amount of work and expenses put in to find out about a legendary figure. The book started well, however it spent quite a few chapters on war wit Turks. I wish there was more about surrounding myths or at what point does Vlad becomes a Dracula. Guess the legends have grown too much in comparison with the real man behind them. Vlad seems to be a warlord who enjoyed war and death. There has been a montion that his childhood in captivity must have had it's effects. Wish there was some more on Vlad as a person, than as information that can be found ob Wikipedia.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nativeabuse

    One of the best books on the subject. My father recommended me this telling me that he'd read it back when he was younger. It is a great history book, the later half dealing with bram stoker and all that is really boring but the part where they transverse the same paths that Vlad took throughout the country was amazing. I loaned this to someone else and they told me that they couldn't get through it because it was too dry, but I think the problem with them was simply that they can't appreciate goo One of the best books on the subject. My father recommended me this telling me that he'd read it back when he was younger. It is a great history book, the later half dealing with bram stoker and all that is really boring but the part where they transverse the same paths that Vlad took throughout the country was amazing. I loaned this to someone else and they told me that they couldn't get through it because it was too dry, but I think the problem with them was simply that they can't appreciate good historical writing, which is going to be at least a little dry by the nature of the topic.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mindi

    This book was decent, but apparently I knew more about Vlad Tepes (Dracula) then I thought I did, because the chapters that detail his life and death were kind of dry and repetitive. The chapter about Bram Stoker was short but informative. Overall, this is a good book if you are unfamiliar with the "real" Dracula. The chapter on Vampires in stage, film, and fiction is good, but my copy of this book was published in 1994, so it's missing 20 years of vampire media. I would have enjoyed reading the This book was decent, but apparently I knew more about Vlad Tepes (Dracula) then I thought I did, because the chapters that detail his life and death were kind of dry and repetitive. The chapter about Bram Stoker was short but informative. Overall, this is a good book if you are unfamiliar with the "real" Dracula. The chapter on Vampires in stage, film, and fiction is good, but my copy of this book was published in 1994, so it's missing 20 years of vampire media. I would have enjoyed reading the author's take on how the mythology has evolved to its current state.

  29. 3 out of 5

    Terri

    Very cool book - but a little history-text book heavy. Gives the historical background of Vlad Tepes (the Impaler - aka Dracula)& it gives the reader a sense as to why he was so, well, angry (not that it justifies it entirely). Then moves on to other eastern European folklore and accounts of true tales such as the Blood Countess (crazy bitch!) and Bram Stoker's insprirations of writing the classic, Dracula (which by the way I now want to read).

  30. 3 out of 5

    Daniel

    This is a history book, but it has enough cryptozoology interest to draw in non-nerds, I think. It is similar to the other book I've added by the same author, but not quite as steeped in history and detail, and therefore more fun to read. The two share a lot of the same information actually, but there's enough of a difference in the two texts to warrant a gander at both. Very interesting that the real person was actually a little scarier than the myth.

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