'Swain serves up a ghoulish treat… Packed full of bizarre research and jaw-dropping tales, his book succeeds in being simultaneously entertaining, informative and slightly unnerving' – Alex Boese, author of Elephants on Acid and Electrified Sheep

'Delightfully macabre… Swain has pulled off a masterful feat in this broad-ranging and fascinating book. Braiiiins!' – Lewis Dartnell,  author of Life in the Universe

'Gripping... reads like a nonfiction version of a Stephen King novel – you’ll stay up all night reading it with goose bumps and the lights on' – Michael Shermer, author of The Believing Brain and Scientific American columnist

256 pages/2013 – World English Language (Oneworld), Germany (btb/Random House), Japan (Intershift), Netherlands (Paradigma), Sweden (Fri Tanke)

256 pages/2013 – World English Language (Oneworld), Germany (btb/Random House), Japan (Intershift), Netherlands (Paradigma), Sweden (Fri Tanke)

How to Make a Zombie

The Real Life (and Death) Science of Reanimation and Mind Control
Frank Swain                                 

Quite apart from being surrounded by zombies, are we zombies ourselves?

From commonplace zombie animals in your back garden to the military’s manipulation of human minds, How to Make a Zombie explores our hundred-year scientific quest to control the bodies and minds of fellow humans. It is packed full of previously untold stories from the most incredible annals of scientific literature: animals brought back to life; unsuspecting citizens dosed with zombifying drugs by secret agents; Soviet experiments in which organs are kept alive when separated from the body; microbes that can cause insanity; parasites that can manipulate their hosts in startling ways, forcing unnatural behaviours, sex changes and suicide; the burgeoning black market in cadavers; how to design the perfect plague; and how, despite our supposed intelligence, we all remain extraordinarily susceptible to manipulation.

In the book, the acclaimed science writer Frank Swain plots a course into the highly unsettling territory where human mind control is orchestrated from within by tiny pathogens, and worse still, by nothing at all – where the architecture of both the brain and the world around it interferes with rational thought. In this way he ties together disparate subjects from the trypanosome parasites of South America to interrogation techniques in Iraq, from psychologists reducing crime through urban design in Manchester to doctors treating schizophrenia with antibiotics in Ethiopia. He reveals the advances in medicine and technology that are making Hollywood fiction a reality. And he deals with the questions raised by these advances: When is someone truly dead? What is the legal status of someone who has died but lives on? And if parasites can bend minds, encouraging impulsive or even violent behaviour, then could those infected be acquitted in a court of law?

Entertaining, eye-opening and mind-bending in its own right, How to Make a Zombie not only reminds us that we can be taken over by other organisms, but also points out that such a thing might have already happened without our knowledge. Perhaps what we consider our own identity is a chorus of voices, only one of which is human...