One River: Explorations and Discoveries in the Amazon Rain Forest
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The story of two generations of scientific explorers in South America—Richard Evans Schultes and his protégé Wade Davis—an epic tale of adventure and a compelling work of natural history.
In 1941, Professor Richard Evan Schultes took a leave from Harvard and disappeared into the Amazon, where he spent the next twelve years mapping uncharted rivers and living among dozens of Indian tribes. In the 1970s, he sent two prize students, Tim Plowman and Wade Davis, to follow in his footsteps and unveil the botanical secrets of coca, the notorious source of cocaine, a sacred plant known to the Inca as the Divine Leaf of Immortality.
A stunning account of adventure and discovery, betrayal and destruction, One River is a story of two generations of explorers drawn together by the transcendent knowledge of Indian peoples, the visionary realms of the shaman, and the extraordinary plants that sustain all life in a forest that once stood immense and inviolable.
original vegetation, but the land had been worked and reworked for generations. Most of the trees had been planted for their fruit. There were mangos and avocados, lucma, guanabana, and beautiful ingas with their spreading delicate branches. The valley had all the splendid chaos of an Indian garden, but it was not a forest. The trail up the Río Donachuí rose through plantings of corn and sugarcane, plantains, cotton, beans, squash, and peppers. Sweet manioc was grown, as well as native root
wonder of it was lost on the crew, who had more immediate concerns. The river was falling, and if there was any chance of passing the Institute’s launch through the rapids at São Gabriel, they would have to hurry. After four days at Santa Isabel, they finally had the motor properly installed, and the boat was ready to proceed under its own power. They left on the evening of October 9, hoping to reach the Baptist mission at Jucabí in a day or two. Instead, two hours after getting under way, the
natural phenomenon, is localized far offshore, in a graveyard in the sea where the cold Humboldt current rising from the depths of the Pacific meets the warm waters of the tropics. As the waters fuse, nearly every form of life is extinguished, from microscopic plankton to the soaring albatross. In some years, such as this one, the warm equatorial current reaches south, wedging itself along the coast and deflecting the cold waters out to sea. Since this usually occurs around Christmas, it is
Press, Albuquerque, 1982. To my mind this beautiful book of photographs and text captures the spirit of the Inca better than anything else in print. For the disappearance of coca from Ecuador, see León, L. A., “The Disappearance of Cocaïsmo in Ecuador,” Bulletin on Narcotics 4(2): 21-25, 1952; León, L. A., “Historia y Extincion del Cocaísmo en el Ecuador: Sus Resultados,” América Indígena 12(1): 7-32, 1952; Myers, T. P., “Formative Period Occupation in the Highlands of Northern Ecuador,”
later they could find no buffalo anywhere and had to make do with an old and weathered hide. But before they could begin the dances, a company of troops arrived to disperse the gathering. On July 20, 1890, the Sun Dance was officially outlawed, and on pain of imprisonment the Kiowa were denied their essential act of faith. Like the Ghost Dance, with its messianic hope that the world might once again be free of whites and replenished with the spirit of the old ways, the Peyote Cult flourished in