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One River Paperback – August 5, 1997
Frequently Bought Together
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.
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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The book is the story of the work of Schultes and two of his students, including the author Wade Davis. It will take you as close as you can ever be to lost cultures and lost ecosystems along with cultures and ecosystems that are very much endangered. Wade Davis is a champion of both human and ecological diversity. "One River" is probably the most eloquent testament to ethnic and biological diversity I've ever read.
As the modern world encroaches on every last nook and cranny of this beautiful earth, "One River" serves as a primer about what once was and about the price we pay as we lose one more species, or one more human culture forever.
This book is an adventure story. It is a story of incredible academic accomplishment. The term academic, with its connotations of being hopelessly removed from the real world does not apply here. Schultes and his students could not be more connected to the real world.
"One River" is the story of man and nature and how the two interact, each forever changing the other. Read this book and then tell your friends about it. While it is hard to make such a claim (there are so many good books), I'd have to say this is my favorite book.
The second Richard is Schultes' own model. Richard Spruce came to the Upper Amazon from mid-Victorian England. Prompted by an inestimable source, Charles Darwin's account of the Beagle voyage, Spruce entered the Amazon country in 1849. Few of the celebrated explorers in Africa in the same period can match the perils Spruce faced and dealt with. As did his follower Schultes, Spruce avoided the overbearing colonialist image - his desires were achieved by finding new medicinal plants. Spruce dealt with the dispensers of drugs and their tales of visions incurred as an equal. In their turn they imparted valuable information leading to useful medicines.Read more ›
Take one vast, timeless rain forest. Season with sacred plants. Add thousands of Indians and one intrepid explorer. Cook at tropical temperature for 12 years. The astonishing and tasty result is Wade Davis' ONE RIVER.
In the late 1930's, Harvard ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes was responsible for major scientific breakthroughs regarding plant hallucinogens in Mexico. His next field assignment, to identify botanical sources of the deadly arrow poison, curare, immersed Schultes in the savage beauty of the Colombian rain forest and its indigenous Indian cultures. Totally captivated, Schultes remained there for the next 12 years.
This true story of Schultes' explorations is compelling, and he's a guide we gladly follow. Quietly heroic, Schultes thinks nothing of paddling thousands of miles down uncharted rivers, navigating white-water rapids that bend his boat in half, stepping on poisonous snakes, and contracting near-fatal tropical diseases. All the Indians he encounters accept him with alacrity, and within a few hours he is often half-naked, painted and feathered, ingesting sacred plants, singing and dancing with his new friends until the dawn. Not exactly what one expects from a politically ultra-conservative Harvard academician.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As with all of Mr. Davis' books you enter into worlds you never knew of. His knowledge, and his insightful sharing of what he learns to you the reader, enriches. Read morePublished 16 days ago by Bill Neylon
Great book, brought on my first trip to Iquitos, left it at the ayahuasca retreat center I was at when finished reading. One river indeed...Published 2 months ago by jhonnarose
I gave it five stars but is was not as good as the "Serpent and the Rainbow". Also two other things bothered me, one the strong focus on drug plants and highs, two that the... Read morePublished 3 months ago by readsalot
An eloquently written, marvelously depicted dual-vantage excursion into the heart of the Amazon, its mysterious cultures, and the powerful medicines they have wielded for millennia... Read morePublished 3 months ago by S. Bombaci
The book was very informative on history of US interactions in South America through anthropologists, mainly ethno botanists, for rubber and medicines. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Paul Lerma
A wonderful literary adventure. Informative, entertaining and impeccably researched. A delight !Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
Dr. Davis' One River carries the reader on an unforgettable journey through the twentieth-century Amazonian rainforest. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Matthew Reed