This book is nothing more than a companion to Lydia Cabrera's work, El Monte, except nothing is mentioned about this author. The stories, the anecdotes, even the pictures are the same ones found in that book! The reason why most people consider this an excellent work is that they can't read Spanish! One of the few original chapters which is on Palo is totally repulsive to me. As a santero and palero I am offended to read that all of us are evil according to Ms. Cabrera. I have met some Paleros that are kind, loving, and very good people while I know of some pretty nasty santeros that don't practice palo at all. Just a humble opinion from a Cuban who "made saint" in Cuba, you are better off staying away from this book. While most books on santeria written in english leave something to be desired, You might be better with Raul Canizares, At least the writing is original and not plagarized. Ache to all on the path.
If you want to learn about the religion called Santería that is practiced and followed in various forms by 100 million people in the Americas, González-Wippler's book is a good place to start. In plain language easy for the layman to comprehend, González writes about the history of Santería, its roots in both African religion and Roman Catholicism (Santería is a syncretism of both), the Santería pantheon, magical practices and magical spells. She also writes a separate chapter on brujería, or witchcraft, a malignant offshoot of Santería but distinctly separate from it. González relates how many herbal spells used in Santería have beneficial medicinal properties, such as the herb higuereta which has been found to shrink malignant tumors, and she also discusses the mindset of those who follow both Santería and Catholicsm and have no problem integrating both into their lives, since each serves its own purpose. The book doesn't go into great depths, but it's an excellent overview for those who want to explore more deeply into the religion and its beliefs and practices. It also has the advantage of being written in English originally, so that it doesn't risk losing anything in translation. I'd recommend it to anyone who is interested in comparative religions and/or the history and culture of Latin America.