Book Review: Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice

Tale of a Shaman’s Apprentice: An Ethnobotanist Searche for New Medicines in the Amazon Rain Forest by Mark J. Plotkin, Ph.D

What can I say about this book? It is probably the best scientific travelogs I’ve ever read. It is very human, very natural, and not pendantic at all. A touch of melancholy runs through the whole things as Dr. Plotkin tries to salvage the slowly disappearing traditional knowledge. I won’t say it has a “happy ending” but at least it was a positive ending, or maybe a positive beginning, since it points to the future. There are so many details in this book that at times your head is spinning from the information. The book takes conversational turns from the ethnobotany of the plants to the history of the areas he visits, to the history of pharmacology. It is a brilliant work and all the more ponient for not pointing fingers at any one cause for the dying cultures he visits and his ability to appreciate people for who they are as opposed to what they are. I highly reccomend this one.

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