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Showing 1-10 of 41 reviews(verified purchases). Show all reviews
on February 16, 2015
There was a lot of information in this book, and on that note I would like to give it a high rating. But the big issue is that this book misrepresents itself. The writer hasn't apprenticed with shamans, and through the whole book kept me on the hook waiting for when he would finally dive into shamanism. All there is in the end is a couple of witnessings of shamanic work. He claims that some of these were big turning points in his life, yet never follows up with any change to his views of character. Through the entire book he continues to view plants as nothing more than drug-producing robots, and never seems to give any sway to the spiritual angle of the healings at hand. Almost none of the book's contents are relevant to people interested in shamanism or apprenticeship ... As 'Charles Le Tan' said in his customer review, this book's title misrepresents its contents. As someone who bought this book with hopes of shamanic learning, I agree with his criticisms.

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?
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on February 20, 2013
This real life tale of an ethnobotanist learning from indigenous South American tribesmen and shamans is a jewel of a book. I didn't want it to end, though it ends in a way that fills me with hope and promise for the human race. Plotkin shares his experiences with native tribesmen as he learns the plants and medicines that they have relied upon, and gives the medicine men a voice at a time when Western Culture begins to dominate tribal life.. He paints a respectful portrait of the cultures and individual personalities in a way that takes you inside his circle of subjects, people who gave freely of their knowledge of the forest plants and their healing combinations and recipes. It's no surprise that I have given this book many times as a gift.
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on May 5, 2016
This has been an interesting read. The delivery and service was efficient and timely with no problems encountered. I am happy to own this book as the sadness is in the diminishing culture of the wise men, trees, animals and knowledge from the Amazon and I have a personal account of the last of the wise people from an ancient culture hopefully being able to pass onto next generations.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon October 18, 2009
The audio version of this book is a double edged sword, on the one hand it is fabulous to hear the author read his book, on the other it's a bit of a pain to convert to something that can be used in the classroom or played on most normal CD players.

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).
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on August 18, 1999
Very thorough but interesting and understandable to the layman, Plotkin's record of his studies increases our appreciation for the disappearing rain forest, its peoples and the potential cures we may find, if we don't destroy them first.
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on January 4, 2013
If you are at all interested in reasons to save the rain forest, use of natural remedies for healing, or Amazonian natives, flora and fauna, you should read this book! Mark Plotkin's recount of his adventures in the Amazon region is fascinating and compelling. For High Schoolers and beyond.
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on July 9, 2015
This wasn't exactly my type of book, but I had to read it for my Plant and Society class. But, I have to say it was a great read! It turned out to be a pleasure to read it, it is very interesting and you learn a lot. I kept it on my kindle and perhaps will read it again, without having to do an assignment along with it.
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on April 8, 2015
I bought this book because of the documentary- both are fantastic. It gives a new sense of appreciation of why we shouldn't support the drug companies and their "need" for capitalism. And it's odd- I just read on CNN about how an ancient remedy may actually kill the MRSA superbug- good timing, especially for the review of this book!
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on May 31, 2015
Very interesting topic and book. Hard to put down. Would like a better understanding of the common or species names of some of these plants but it may have been difficult to sort all of them out since most are specific to the amazon region and described in the language of the 'natives'.
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on May 31, 2015
Science is the most misunderstood of man's curiosity and hunger to find and use those things that ARE RIGHT THERE!
This shows the ways we need to spot an answer and USE IT TO THE GREATEST EXTENT.
STORY/ TRAVELOGUE/ SCIENCE/ GEOLOGY/ HISTORY.
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