One River : Explorations and Discoveries in the Amazon Rain Forest Paperback
by Wade Davis
From the author of INTO THE SILENCE, winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-FictionIn 1941, Richard Evans Schultes took a leave of absence from Harvard University and disappeared into the Northern Amazon of Colombia. The world's leading authority on the hallucinogens and medicinal plants of the region, he returned after twelve years of travelling through South America in a dug-out canoe, mapping uncharted rivers, living among local tribes and documenting the knowledge of shamans. Thirty years later, his student Wade Davis landed in Bogota to follow in his mentor's footsteps - so creating an epic tale of undaunted adventure, a compelling work of natural history and a testament to the spirit of scientific exploration.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 544 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Publishing
- Publication Date: 26/06/2014
- Category: Expeditions
- ISBN: 9780099592969
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Review by Eyejaybee
I am struggling to decide how to summarise this powerful book. At one level it seamlessly combines anthropology, history, geography and ethnobotany, with sprinklings of pharmacology, shamanism and politics thrown in. It is, however, also a powerful personal memoir of Timothy Plowman. a close friend of the author and widely acknowledged giant of the world of ethnobotany.In the late 1960 and early 1970s Davis was a student of Professor Richard Schultes who was at that time the world's leading authority on the hallucinogens and medicinal plants to be found in the Amazon Basin. In the 1940s he had wandered into the upper reaches of the Amazon and more or less disappeared for about twelve years. During that time he lived with local tribes and experienced numerous shamanistic rites. He returned to his academic life in Harvard twelve years later with a wealth of material and virtually created the discipline of ethnobotany.Though principally an anthropologist himself, Davis became one of Schultes's inner circle, and consequently became acquainted with Plowman, whom Schultes had earmarked as his successor. Plowman spent most of his time retracing Schultes's footsteps, collecting thousands of specimens of plant life and exploring their hallucinogenic properties. (This was long before Colombia became established as the centre of illegal cocaine farming on the industrial scales of today.) Davis travelled south to join Plowman, and much of the book is devoted to recounting their travels.Davis writes with great lucidity and has a great facility for conveying complex ideas with an easy clarity than even the most ignorant of laymen (i.e. me) can readily understand. He also adds a lot of historical insight along the way, making this an immensely interesting and informative book.