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Shadows in the Sun: Travels to Landscapes of Spirit and Desire Hardcover – 31 Mar 1999


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Island Press; First Printing edition (31 Mar 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559633549
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559633543
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.9 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 788,248 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

The wonders of the diversity of various cultures and their relationship to their landscape - from the high Arctic and the northern forests to the swamps of the Orinoco - are hunted, gathered, and honestly appreciated here by the peripatetic Davis (One River, 1996). Davis is a sojourner in remote places. He tarries, hoping to get a taste of the intimate, deep reverence for the home place that indigenous people experience by staying put, to sample some of the mythopoetic associations and enigmatic happenings that spring like girls from the land for those who sit still long enough to witness. Here he recounts a dozen journeys, some in search of ethnobotanicals, some to expose himself to the poetics of a particular patch of ground, others to get a psychic education, as when he accompanies the Haitian Vodouns in their pilgrimage to sacred places, both terrestrial and ethereal. There is a good profile of Bruno Manser, a Swiss who went to live among Sarawak's Penan and joined them in their fight against the pillagers (many of them governmental) of their forest, thus becoming "a fugitive straddling the cusp of cultures." That same place, the shear zone, is inhabited by hamans, and Davis has been disturbed and fascinated in many of his travels by these men and women operating outside our familiar calculus of explanation. And as an ethnobotanist, he is drawn to the human potential unleashed by profoundly altered states - firewalking, slowing heartbeats to near imperceptible levels - and the psychotropics that serve as launch pads. One such hallucinogen comes from a monstrous toad that secretes a drug from glands on its head; it seems very handy for a quick slurp, but it turns out that you have to toke the toad to get the best buzz. Davis's lovely, cubist, rich landscape portraits are also topographies of the spirit, conveying a sense of place, but perhaps even more, the music of place. (Kirkus Reviews)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 30 Dec 1998
Format: Hardcover
This book is an excellent way to introduce anyone to the joys of cultural anthropolgy. It exams various aspects of different cultures in each chapter, thereby making it easy to read as each chapter presents a different culture. Davis is the ultimate story-teller, though his tone is that of science as opposed to the average traveler tales. Unfortauntely, most scientists with something to present do not present it in a way that is pleasant to read; Davis is the exception. This book is good reading if you wish to experiance forgein lands; it will remind you of those childhood stories of far of places. This book introduces thoughts on the paradox of the delightful differences yet beautiful unity of lands and their people. It makes the land come alive. Scholars will appreciate this book as informative relaxing reading. It is a fantastic way to introduce a student to the joys of understand people around the world. Children would delighted in most of the stories; the concepts are presented in such a way that even they can grasp the meaning. As a high school student trying to settle on a major which will entice my interest and challege me for the rest of my life, Davis has managed to help me find my quest. Anthropogy opens in this book. The thoughts on the importance of having a land have been abandonned by the philosophical community, so it is good to see a scientist stepping out to remind us that there is something to having a homeland.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 Nov 1998
Format: Hardcover
After hearing Wade Davis discuss this book on National Public Radio two weeks ago, curiosity about medicinal plants and the people who discovered them made me get this book (from Amazon.com). A Harvard Ph.D. in ethnobotany, Davis takes us throughout the world to meet spiritual people and their plants. This is not "New Age" hokus-pokus but rather a readibly scholarly and exciting look at how plants made humans what *WE* are. He discusses with many specific examples both the positive and also negative affects which psychotropic plants have on the human brain and perception. He even discusses recent research on a mind altering drug that Davis extracted from the venom of a southwestern United States desert toad. On the light side, he also discusses how the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency is trying to hopelessly regulate this toad.
Davis, who in his youth spent several years working as a logging engineer in the Northwestern American logging business, tells the story with facts and figures about what is being done to our irreplacable forests. Indeed, he not only lets us know the truth of how the logging industry and the government lied to us for concealing the actual destruction that they do. Without hysteria or even judging, Davis gives us a glimpse into the very near future which because of the loss to humanity of our great forests, their ancient diverse plant and animal life connected to all human life will soon affect us and our descendents far into the distant future!
"Shadows in the Sun," MUST BE READ by anyone who needs to know what's going on.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 24 Nov 1998
Format: Hardcover
Wade davis, ethnobotanist extraordinaire, has set for himself an exceedingly high standard, especially after the publication of One River. I awaited with anticipation my copy of Shadows In The Sun, especially after hearing Wade on NPR. As an interview, he was cogent, compelling, brilliant and witty. Too bad, then, that Shadows In The Sun does not live up either to One River, or to Wade's terrific radio presence. A collection of snippets, Shadows could work, but it drags a bit. And while Davis offers up the kind of compelling descriptions and pithy observations that are his stock in trade, the whole delivery comes off a bit disjointed. Nonetheless, it's thought-provoking and useful. But if you're hoping for the kind of page-turner that Wade davis has put out before, you're in for a let-down. It may be better to follow some of his practical if risky procedure and smoke the venomous scrapings of Bufo alvarius toad. That would certainly be a head-turner. Just a thought...
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