on 21 September 2002
This book has changed my entire view of life on earth; of how we, as humans, evolved; and the way in which we and other species, interact with and depend upon on the plant kingdom. Stephen Harrod Buhner poetically re-introduces the reader to the taste of the "Wild Water" and gently reminds us of the way nature and plants have historically been revered by cultures for their importance to all life. He then retraces the steps of the industrial and scientific revolutions and illustrates how humanity is continually losing its connection with our plant allies and how environmental impacts of technological medicine are making this connection ever harder to reform. Buhner provides a unique perpective on Gaia theory and in doing so, brings the role of so-called 'pathogenic' bacteria into perspective and underlines the futile plight of modern medicine to eradicate them at the expense of the planet. The latter part of the book discusses the importance of diversity amongst plants and plant chemicals and how each plant contributes to the health of organisms within its own micro-environment. It then looks at ways to restore our natural biophilia towards plants and provides exercises and personal experiences to help us along the way. Filled with beautiful quotations and thoroughly referenced, this book will provide enlightenment to all those interested in herbalism, shamanism, botany, microbiolgy, chemistry, medicine, nature and environmental issues, or to anyone who feels that the importance of plants in their life is grossly understated.
on 21 January 2009
The quintessential hippy biology book! There is a point when as a biologist, the life science becomes more of a personal odyssey- a philosophy about life, how you got here and how to live harmoniously in nature. Along that journey, this is an influential book. The trademark feature of Buhner's work is an unusual blend of left and right- brained stimulation; whilst there is plenty of scientific and technical food for thought, you are encouraged to integrate this into your feeling world through exercises, poignant quotes, stories, anecdotes and contributions from luminaries in the field such as Rosemary Gladstar, John Seed, etc. So what's it all about? The book starts like a narrative rather like Rachel Carson's Silent Spring but tracing the human relationship with the living world in terms of our damaging technocentric epistemology. Buhner's thesis is that we have lost our sense of connection with nature, wounding ourselves and threatening ecological stability and ultimately the survival of our species. This epistemological conflict is brilliantly exposed in his chapter The End Of Antibiotics which even as a stand alone chapter is worth reading. But, like a seedling that grows and unfolds to reveal its true shape, the purpose of the book further unfolds. By examining the nature of plants as key stabilising agents in ecological communities, as medicine (not just for humans or animals- but all living systems), as spiritual agents in shamanic and folk medicine, Buhner shows a way back to a sense of connectedness to nature, of a sustainable agriculture and medicine, laying the philosophical foundations of a knowing biophilia, biognosis, and deep ecology, as a nature- centered philosophy with revolutionary connotations. This is essential reading for biologists with an ethical, social, political, and environmental conscience, and for all people who want to heal their sense of disconnection from the Earth.
on 30 April 2007
I can only echo the last reviewer in saying that this has been one of the most beautiful, inspiring and terrifying books I have ever read. I can only compare it in terms of it's impact on me to reading 'Seeing Green' by Jonathan Porritt in the mid-eighties. It's contains an amazing diversity of information and moves seamlessly from the poetic to the scientific. If I could sum up the book I would say that it is both an essay on the fundamental flaw in modern Western human thinking and a key in how to get ourselves out of the global environmental mess we have got ourselves into. It's the kind of book I want to buy 10 copies of and give away.
on 12 August 2009
There is not much i can add to Patterson's review above, however i would just like to emphasize what a unique book this is in order to encourage people to buy it.
If i was to write about what i got from this book i could write the longest review in the world so your just going to have to trust a random bloke and get it. In short i have not read a book in a long time that i wished so many others could read too.
I hope you enjoy it as much as i did and am sure you will.
on 8 February 2014
I believe this book is essential reading for all. Buhner's research and knowledge are extensive, and he lays down in very accessible terms some of the major problems that face our society. The separation of humans from nature is dangerous and has brought some of the worst crises that Western society faces down upon us.
Buhner goes into detail about how the loss of nature from our lives has left an unfillable gap in our very beings, and how we often don't even know it.
His chapter on pharmaceuticals is frightening, knowledgable and necessary.
What's more, his writing is poetic, sympathetic and accessible. This is a must read for Western society and also for this century. Brilliant.