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Glendel Buford Summerford, pastor the Church of Jesus with Signs Following, was convicted of trying to kill his wife with posinous snakes. As Dennis Covington covered the murder trial, he discovered the bizarre, mysterious, ultimately irresistible world of holiness snake handling—a world of unshakable faith, where pepole handle poisonous snakes, drink strychnine, speak in tongues, lay hands on the sick, and, some claim, raise the dead. As Covington explored the lives and beliefs of the poor white Southerners who practice this strange form of religion, he gradually began to explore his own soul.
With an admirable balance of objectivity and passion, he writes of his ancestors, who came down from the hills of Appalachia only two generations ago, of the riveting power of the faith he witnesses, and finally, of his own spiritual transformation, which leads him to join those he is writing about and take up the snakes.