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One River: Explorations and Discoveries in the Amazon Rain Forest [Kindle Edition]

Wade Davis
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

From the author of INTO THE SILENCE, winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction

In 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.

Product Description


"Davis writes magnificently... A great lyrical book, as richly varied as the rain forests it describes" (New York Times Book Review)

"An exceptional tale of 20th-century scientific exploration and a rousing travelogue to places both real and illusory" (Kirkus Reviews)

"Extraordinary...a biographical tapestry rich in history, adventure, intrigue and scholarship" (Nature)

"A wild ride through one rapid after another…magnificent" (Boston Globe)

"Brilliantly written..this is essential reading for anyone interested in [the Amazon] area" (Good Book Guide)

Book Description

From the author of INTO THE SILENCE, the winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize 2012, comes an epic tale of adventure in the Amazon rainforest.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating book - everyone should have a copy! 17 April 2001
By A Customer
"One River" is one of the most fascinating and readable books about South America that I have ever come across. Although Wade Davis obviously intends his work to be a tribute to his mentor, Schultes, and his friend Tim Plowman, the book is much more than a mere botanical biography. Davis writes with great enthusiasm and combines subjects that continually entertain and inform the reader. The book is filled with true tales of adventures on the Amazon, encounters with jungle tribes, fanatical hunts for rare plants, and wild journeys through the remote Andes. Exploration, excitement and ethnobotany are skilfully blended with a well-researched history of South America. The reader is presented with a great deal of thought-provoking material about the past, present and future of this contradictory continent. HIGHLY recommended.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a fascinating story 24 May 2000
Absolutely fascinating story of the Amazon this/last century. A fantastic chapter on the rubber boom and its side affects on the Amazon peoples. Also contains a chapter on the Waorani which the book is worth buying for alone as I learnt more on the Wao's from this chapter than I did from one whole book on the waorani by another author. This book does not contain one tedious moment between its two covers.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Depswa disclosed 3 Feb. 2006
By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME
Anyone still doubting the superiority of fact over fiction need only take this book to a quiet corner and start reading. Wade Davis relates the stories of two Richards, Schultes and Spruce, plus his own in their respective excursions in the upper Amazon. Schultes, Davis' Harvard mentor, spent many years there seeking medicinal plants and new sources of rubber when access to Asian resins were lost during World War II. No work of fiction, including Hollywood's almost trifling account in the film "Medicine Man", can match the scope of what Schultes accomplished during his extensive travels. Schultes had the good sense to approach the Native American shamans with respect, dealing with them on their terms and not as a latter-day conquistador. They responded to his inquiries in kind, leading to countless new medicines for treating our "civilized" illnesses. He became a "depswa" - medicine man - sharing their rituals while gaining knowledge. Davis is able to use his close relationship with Schultes to provide an engrossing and detailed account of Schultes' career in the bush.
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.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AMAZING BOOK!!!!!!!!!! 9 Dec. 2005
By A Customer
Without doubt one of the most wonderful books I've ever read.
Exceptionally researched, really clever intertwining of the the personal experience, history and biography of the mentor.
A great writer!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars top book on colombia and rainforest 10 Dec. 2000
By A Customer
excellent read which inspires fear now that the gringos are talking of aerial spraying of the colombian rain forests. worth reading for the description of the value of the most biodiverse part of the planet.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting and enlightening 3 Oct. 2000
By A Customer
I too found this book amazing. I read it whilst working as a jungle guide in Peru and it was such a good companion. It was funny and interesting and sad and some of the history it described was shocking. Awesome.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed 21 Sept. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Having read Wade Davis' wonderful "Into the Silence" I bought "One River" thinking it was his next book. In fact the latter was first published in 1996 and, presumably, re-released in the UK on the back of the former's great success. It was interesting too that there appeared to be little literary review of "One River".

It certainly was a leap of faith as South America is not an area of interest to me (it should be) nor the psychoactive properties of plants (perhaps it should be) and this combined with anthropology of the Amazon tribes caused me to abandon the book half way - I tried to persevere but was conscious all the time of "ploughing" and page counting (how long to the end?). I was not pulled into the narrative nor was my interest piqued in any way.

Some will like this book. I can see the appeal but I suggest they have to enjoy and have an interest in the topics detailed above. "One River" does not frankly soar to the literary heights of "Into the Silence"
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