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Shadows in the Sun: Travels to Landscapes of Spirit and Desire Paperback – October 12, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0767904025 ISBN-10: 0767904028 Edition: 1ST

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway; 1ST edition (October 12, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767904028
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767904025
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,950,400 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Renowned anthropologist Wade Davis shows us how preserving the diversity of the world's cultures and spiritual beliefs is just as important as preserving our endangered plants, insects, and animals. In this collection of personal essays, Davis tells of dramatic personal adventures during which he visits and often lives with indigenous communities in the remote regions of the world. He offers reports of toad-smoking shamanistic journeys in the Amazon forests, tracking an elusive cloud leopard in the mountains of Tibet, and a soulful lament for the lost American buffalo.

Although he has been called a modern-day Indiana Jones, Davis has far more integrity. His stories are not in service to self-glorification, but rather to one resounding theme:

If there is one lesson I have drawn from my travels, it is that cultural and biological diversity are far more than the foundation of stability; they are an article of faith, a fundamental truth that indicates the way things are supposed to be.... There is a fire burning over the Earth, taking with it plants and animals, cultures, languages, ancient skills, and visionary wisdom. Quelling this flame and reinventing the poetry of diversity is the most important challenge of our times.
--Gail Hudson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Davis, who holds a Harvard Ph.D. in ethnobotany and degrees in biology and anthropology, is also a prolific writer (e.g., One River, LJ 7/96). His current work is an eclectic collection of essays, some previously published, dealing with topics that include hallucinogenic plants (of which he partakes), toad licking, disappearing rain forests, Haitian voudoun, and the elusive clouded leopard. While at first glance these may not seem related, an overall appreciation for native cultures and for the natural world is evident throughout. Davis is straightforward and clear but not quite spellbinding. Still, this enjoyable read takes the armchair traveler to places few have written about. Recommended for all travel collections.?Kathleen A. Shanahan, American Univ. Lib., Washington, DC
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Each of his works are entertaining and thoroughly informative.
Bill Neylon
This book is good reading if you wish to experiance forgein lands; it will remind you of those childhood stories of far of places.
Hannah S. Rogers (goldhill@auburn.campus.mci.net
I have one of the first editions of this book and many others authored by Wade Davis.
Michael T. Suderman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Jordan on November 30, 1999
Format: Hardcover
A package arrived from home several weeks into my first semester of school. In it, my dad had included a copy of SHADOWS IN THE SUN. I am toying with the idea of adding Anthropology as a second major to my current Chemistry. After reading Davis's book, I was nothing short of enlightening. It's strange to think that such an awakening can occur after experiencing another culture vicariously through a stranger, but his essays were enough for me to name him my current science hero. He writes with a passion that is unparalled by many scientists. Complicated details, from the biochemical make-up of toad secretions to the effects of drinking ayahuasca, are written in a way my eighty-one year old great-grandmother could understand them. An eventual goal of mine is to do science writing, and Davis writes just as I aspire to. Candidly and comically, he personifies the robotesque stereotype many people must have of scientists. Nothing stuffy or arrogant about these essays. Davis is the first scientist I have ever read who has admitted in print that he has been baffled by the discoveries research has led him to. No "I knew I was right" attitude, and only vivid descriptions that make the book impossible to put down. It allowed me to look beyond my own ethnocentricities and taste the tiniest sample of the importance of environment in other cultures. Nothing short of amazing and, although I am still young, I imagine this book will remain one of my favorites for quite a while.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By brownw@halcyon.com on May 14, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I read "Shadows" while in Mexico on vacation after hearing his interview on NPR and was delighted with it. Davis shows how it's possible to combine academics, environmentalism, travel and adventure into a life that's so much more interesting than anything shown on TV or in video games. Here's somebody who really went out and got a life.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Hannah S. Rogers (goldhill@auburn.campus.mci.net on December 30, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This book is an excellent way to introduce anyone to the joys of cultural anthropolgy. It exams various aspects of different cultures in each chapter, thereby making it easy to read as each chapter presents a different culture. Davis is the ultimate story-teller, though his tone is that of science as opposed to the average traveler tales. Unfortauntely, most scientists with something to present do not present it in a way that is pleasant to read; Davis is the exception. This book is good reading if you wish to experiance forgein lands; it will remind you of those childhood stories of far of places. This book introduces thoughts on the paradox of the delightful differences yet beautiful unity of lands and their people. It makes the land come alive. Scholars will appreciate this book as informative relaxing reading. It is a fantastic way to introduce a student to the joys of understand people around the world. Children would delighted in most of the stories; the concepts are presented in such a way that even they can grasp the meaning. As a high school student trying to settle on a major which will entice my interest and challege me for the rest of my life, Davis has managed to help me find my quest. Anthropogy opens in this book. The thoughts on the importance of having a land have been abandonned by the philosophical community, so it is good to see a scientist stepping out to remind us that there is something to having a homeland.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Kari L. Black on June 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
How tough are we, really? When I was twelve I can assure you that I was not killing polar bears and whales; but Wade Davis introduces the reader to just such an Inuit boy. The boy is special in that he carries on a tradition of providing his community with sustenance; but he is one of many such boys and men in his community. Shadows in the Sun is filled with cultural activities that seem bizzare, terrifying, beautifully exotic, outrageous, and downright strange to those of us whose culture is surrounded by electronics, mass media, and mass prefabrication. It is a beautifully written book that samples human diversity as a threatened and disappearing art form.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By cowboyck@ix.netcom.com on November 24, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Wade davis, ethnobotanist extraordinaire, has set for himself an exceedingly high standard, especially after the publication of One River. I awaited with anticipation my copy of Shadows In The Sun, especially after hearing Wade on NPR. As an interview, he was cogent, compelling, brilliant and witty. Too bad, then, that Shadows In The Sun does not live up either to One River, or to Wade's terrific radio presence. A collection of snippets, Shadows could work, but it drags a bit. And while Davis offers up the kind of compelling descriptions and pithy observations that are his stock in trade, the whole delivery comes off a bit disjointed. Nonetheless, it's thought-provoking and useful. But if you're hoping for the kind of page-turner that Wade davis has put out before, you're in for a let-down. It may be better to follow some of his practical if risky procedure and smoke the venomous scrapings of Bufo alvarius toad. That would certainly be a head-turner. Just a thought...
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Degan Beley on January 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
At first I thought I had read this book already, and while it's technically possible, I think I am getting that sensation because Wade Davis recycles his stories and essays over and over again. By now I think I've read everything he's written (or getting very close, at any rate) and I love it all. He has great stories. But like a drunk uncle at a Christmas party, they are changing as he gets older and they are also getting a little tired. By my count, I've heard about the running of the borders in the Andes about 6 times now, and it's fascinating, it's a really great tradition and Davis tells it well, but honestly, I expect more from a man who's travelled around the world, lived with the Penan and in the Amazon and in Haiti and in the Stikine...he's got to have more stories than that. So in that respect I found this book frustrating because I kept skipping ahead for something that didn't sound like something I'd already heard. And that's a shame because his stories are enticing and he writing style is engaging, I'm just hungry for more new material.
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