Of Plants and Men
Friday, January 09, 2009 | Author: eventer79

I'm always looking for my next favourite book, so I have to introduce you to Wade Davis. He is an ethnobotanist (translation: anthropology mated with botany and the result is this esoteric but fascinating field of study) with a gift for writing. My first meeting with him was on the pages of "The Serpent and the Rainbow" where he travels to Haiti to investigate the legend of the zombie (oh yes, they DO exist and you'll just have to read the book to find out how). My mother gave me the book and I started it, thinking I'd be bored silly (despite my love of biology, botany leaves me noticeably glassy-eyed) -- instead, I was sucked in and couldn't put it down. Part adventure tale, part forensic investigation, and part just-plain-meeting-really-interesting-authentic-people, his travels with voodoo left me hungry for more.

So I hit up another (also a gift from mom, she has a knack for finding these things for me) that I just finished, this time the considerably more sizeable both in topic and doorstop quality "One River." Davis tells not only of his own mid-70's graduate project in the Amazon studying coca and its origins, but also his professor's exploits in the 40's and 50's with hallucinogenic plants and wild rubber. It did take me a loooooooooooooooooooong time to read it (and I'm a pretty fast reader), but it was simply fascinating and like most naturalist/adventure books, made me long for a good adventure, which I haven't had in years!

Interesting side note: Davis' professor, Richard Evans Schultes, supposedly had a lab where he taught at Harvard where he assigned his students to sample a hallucinogenic plant of choice and report on the results. All I have to say is: where was THAT class when I was an undergrad????!

Even if you don't think you're into reading biology books or books about plants, I still highly recommend. Davis makes the story flow so despite the fact that he is educating you, it doesn't hurt one bit. And it keeps me in perspective, reminding me that there is a whole world out there full of places that each have their own unique beauty and challenges, each with their own peoples and flora and fauna and rivers and seasons. I'm only a tiny tiny tiny tiny tiny piece in all of that and somehow, that keeps me grounded....

So wander on -- right to your local library and check it out!
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