Best known for The Serpent and the Rainbow, Wade Davis is an ethnobotanist interested in the native uses of plants, especially psychotropics. He finds many such plants in the travels he recounts in One River, especially coca and curare. (The first, famously, is a curse in the First World but is a necessity in the Andes, where it promotes the digestion of many kinds of food plants.) Framing Davis's narrative is an account of the dangerous World War II-era Amazonian expeditions undertaken by his mentor, Harvard biologist Richard Evans Schultes. Davis describes a few hair-raising encounters of his own, making this a fine book of scientific adventure.
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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Whenever I travel, I try to read a book about where I am heading. My wife, one of my daughters and my grandson were going to spend some time in Peru and in the Amazon rain forest,... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Marion D Aldridge
One of my all time favorites. It's got everything I look for in a good non-fiction book: Science, History, Adventure and passion. I just couldn't put it down. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Nicolas Wills
Alternating between fascinating stories and a boring travelogue, this book is repetitive and difficult to plow through. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Dave DeWitt
This is a wonderful book, full of adventure and respect for the best kind of science and scientists. It made me very interested in visiting Colombia, which I'm glad to say I did.Published 6 months ago by rubempre
This tome is one of my favorites. Richard Evans Schultes student, Wade Davis, writes a riveting account of ethnobotanical adventure. Read morePublished 6 months ago by ryan
This is a great book that takes you threw the trials of field work and into some of the lost cultures of the amazon,and openly discusses the use of coca and yagé without the... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Buddy Davis