Richard Evans Schultes
was arguably this century's foremost botanist and the father of ethnobotany--the study of plants and medicinal knowledge of indigenous peoples. He inadvertently inspired the 1960s drug culture with the publication of his scholarly journals on hallucinogenic plants. A meticulous scientist, his research on Columbia's rubber-producing hevea trees led to America's mass-production of rubber during World War II, which ultimately contributed to victory. Davis, one of Schultes's most devoted students, recounts the great botanist's life--from his research along hundreds of miles of forested rivers and his jungle treks while shattered by malaria to his intuitive gift with Amazon shamans and his relationship with such cult figures as Timothy Leary
and William Burroughs
From Publishers Weekly
The prodigious biological and cultural riches of the vast Amazon rain forest are being lost at a horrendous rate, according to the author, often without yielding their secrets to the Western world. During his years in the South American jungle, ethnobotanist Davis (The Serpent and the Rainbow) has done much to preserve some of these treasures. He tells two entwined tales here?his own explorations in the '70s and those of his mentor, the great Harvard ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes, beginning in the '30s. Both men have been particularly interested in the psychoactive and medicinal properties of the plants of the Amazon basin and approach their subject with a reverence for the cultural context in which the plants are used. The contrasting experiences of two explorers, a mere generation apart, starkly demonstrates how much has already been destroyed in the rain forest. Although Schultes probably knew more about Amazonian plants than any Western scientist, he was constantly learning of new ones and new uses for them from native experts. Davis graphically describes the brutal clash of cultures from Columbian times to the present, often so devastating for indigenous peoples, that has defined this region. At times humorous, at times depressing, this is a consistently enlightening and thought-provoking study. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.