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Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice: An Ethnobotanist Searches for New Medicines in the Amazon Rain Forest Paperback – August 1, 1994
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A century ago, malaria was killing Washingtonians, Londoners, Parisians. Today HIV, along with various cancers, has taken its place among worldwide epidemics. Quinine, extracted from the cinchona tree of the Amazonian rainforest, quelled malaria; alkaloids taken from trees in the West African rainforest may well yield a cure for AIDS. Yet those woods, Mark Plotkin tells us, are fast disappearing, along with the native peoples who know the powers of the plants that dwell there. His account of wandering through the Amazonian jungles focuses on local knowledge about plants, whose uses range from the mundane to the magical. The rainforests of the world, Plotkin notes, are our greatest natural resource, an intercultural pharmacy that can cure woes both known and yet unvisited.
From Publishers Weekly
Ethnobotanist Plotkin details the alternative medicines he discovered during an apprenticeship to the shamans of the Amazon rainforests.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
I LOVE this book. To anyone who likes herbs or homeopathic remedies or science in general, you need to get this book. Yes, it's a little outdated what with it being about 2 decades old, but the reading is still there, and it's all true! It gives you a glimpse into what life was like in the deep, untouched forests back then and talks about who big pharma was already in the process of attempting to focus on their personal gain rather than supporting these shaman who knew so much about medicinal herbs and plants. I couldn't put this book down and ended up flying through it in less than a week. It's an easy read despite all the scientific plant names in it and is something I encourage all of you to look into.
This is an incredible book. There are wonderful reviews of this book, and I'd encourage you to read about the content here, Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice: An Ethnobotanist Searches for New Medicines in the Amazon Rain Forest.
As a companion to the book, I was interested in this audio book. Mark Plotkin reads a slightly abridged version of the book. Mr. Plotkin is not a professional voice, he does a decent job reading his own work. At times his voice sounds a bit strained trying to add some emotion. He also has a bit of trouble maintaining his breath and pace during longer passages. But, his voice is pleasant, and he articulates each word very clearly.
The down side to this CD, it is a CD with 8 MP3 files. If you have an MP3 capable CD player, wonderful, this disc will work perfectly. However, if you only have a normal CD player, these files will have to be converted. Fortunately iTunes can do this fairly easily. Other audio programs can do the same thing.
The step by step instruction:
If you only have one CD/DVD drive, you will have to temporarily copy the MP3 files to your computer. Insert the MP3 CD, copy the 8 MP3 files (ignore everything else on the disc) titled 01 through 08.MP3 to your desktop.
If you are lucky and have two CD/DVD drives, simply insert the MP3 CD into one of your two drives.
Now open iTunes. In the file menu, choose 'import files'. Once that menu is open, click on browse and either go to your desktop for the copied files (01 through 08.MP3); or browse your computer to find the CD drive and highlight the MP3 files (10 through 08). Click on OK.
iTunes will now add 8 song files to your library.
Now you need to create a playlist (Audio CD's can only be burned from a playlist). Go up to the File menu and select, create a new playlist. Rename that playlist to something familiar like Shaman.
Now highlight your 8 new songs from the CD (you can use 'date added' to float those 8 files to the top of your music library) and drag them over to the newly created playlist.
Now you are ready to burn 3 Audio CD's. Click on the new playlist - only 8 songs should be visible. Highlight all 8 files. Click on Burn in the lower right hand corner of the iTunes screen. If you have two CD/DVD drives, select the one not containing the MP3 CD. iTunes will be a little confused for a second and ask if it's OK to burn these Audio CD's on more than one CD. Simply click on Yes and the software will prompt for each consecutive blank CD.
To clean up your iTunes library, assuming you don't want this book cluttering up your library (although you could listen to these on an iPod just as easily); highlight the 8 tracks in iTunes and press the delete key. Go to your desktop and highlight the 8 MP3 files there and delete them. All traces of this MP3 craziness is now gone from your computer.
The entire program requires 3 audio CD's. Three parts will fit on one CD.
Enjoy this fabulous book. The audio version is a great companion. You have to be a bit tech savvy to get these files moved over to an audio CD for listening. But it's not that hard in the end (free tools will work just fine).
What's worse, the book opens with an amazing scene of spiritual visitation while he sleeps one night, then goes into a furiously boring back-story about himself and his schooling, for years before he even encounters that event. Once the event is revisited halfway into the book, there is absolutely no follow-up beyond what was written in the beginning...
Even those interested in the botanical information must trudge through overly elaborate lead-ups and descriptions of landscapes, not to mention historical sideline after sideline, which served as nothing but reinforcing a point he could have made in one sentence. I found myself skipping pages at a time telling myself "Blah blah blah" until the writer finally resumed the more interesting scene he had started 10 pages earlier.
His heart is in the right place, but this book should have been titled "Tales of a tropical plant collector"
It is also quite annoying that though he keeps talking about plant knowledge he'd put together and shared in binders with the local people, the reader has no access to this wealth of knowledge. So the people got their plant library, the drug companies got their billion-dollar leads ... In the end, I find myself wondering "Why did I read this book? What did I walk away with?" Nothing, really. Just a couple of interesting moments of shamanic magic that went nowhere, and a sense that this book was much about patting the writer on the back for being better than the missionaries and society as a whole ... Which is fine, but again, what was in it for me as a reader?