The Lost Amazon: The Photographic Journey of Richard Evans Schultes

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9780500285244: The Lost Amazon: The Photographic Journey of Richard Evans Schultes

In 1941 Richard Evans Schultes took a term's leave of absence from Harvard University and disappeared into the north west Amazon of Colombia. Twelve years later, he returned having gone places no outsider had ever been, mapping uncharted rivers and living among two dozen Indian tribes while collecting some thirty thousand botanical specimens, including two thousand novel medicinal plants and three hundred species new to science. The greatest Amazonian botanical explorer of the twentieth century, Schultes was not only a living link to the great naturalists of the Victorian age, but the world authority on toxic, medicinal and hallucinogenic plants. The Lost Amazon is the first major publication to examine Richard Evans Schultes's work through his photographs. Over the course of two decades, he took more than ten thousand images of plants, of landscapes, and of the indigenous peoples with whom he lived. Among his collection are images of teonanacatl, the sacred hallucinogenic mushrooms knows to the Aztecs as Flesh of the Gods, and whose identification sparked the psychdelic era. There are also photographs from the heart of the rain forest, a mantle of green that once stretched across the entire continent. Most importantly, there are portraits of many people never before photographed, lovingly and respectfully captured in moments of unguarded innocence that reflect his deep relationships with the native peoples.

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From the Back Cover:

An extraordinary document, as rich in rare, beautiful photographs as it is in the story of a true adventurer, The Lost Amazon chronicles the journeys of legendary explorer Richard Evans Schultes.

Regarded as the father of ethnobotany and described by his protégé Wade Davis as the last of the great plant explorers in the Victorian tradition,” Schultes revealed the botanical identity of teonanacatl, the sacred hallucinogenic mushroom known to the Aztecs as the flesh of the gods,” through his doctoral research. Soon after, in 1941, he left Harvard for the Amazon, intending to be gone for only a semester. Instead, he disappeared into the rainforest and spent the next twelve years in pursuit of its mysteries. He lived among dozens of local tribes, mapped unknown rivers, sought out sources of rubber for the U.S. government during World War II, collected over 30,000 botanical specimens, discovered over 300 species, and described for the first time the use of over 2,000 medicinal plants.

As gifted a photographer as he was a scientist, Schultes’s exquisite images capture both the lush landscapes of his journey, as well as his deep empathy with the peoples who held him in high esteem; forging strong camaraderie with the local tribes, Schultes almost never carries a firearm, and said, I do not believe in hostile Indians.” The Lost Amazon is not only the story of one man’s astonishing journey, but also an unrivaled anthropological record.

Schultes’s field notes are accompanied by a biographical essay by Wade Davis that provides personal and historical reflection on his mentor in science and exploration, and a foreword by Andrew Weil, another of Schultes’s students. Together with Schultes’s own photographs, they provide, for the first time, a visual and written chronicle of astonishing discovery and of a way of life that can never be recaptured.

About the Author:

Wade Davis has degrees in anthropology and biology as well as a PhD in ethnobotany from Harvard University, where he met and studied under Richard Evans Schultes. Currently Explorer in Residence at the National Geographic Society in the United States, he is also the acclaimed writer of numerous books, including The Serpent and the Rainbow and One River: Explorations and Discoveries in the Amazon Rain Forest. Andrew Weil, who also studied under Richard Evans Schultes, is an internationally recognized expert on medicinal herbs, mind-body interactions and integrative medicine.

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Wade Davis; Andrew T. Weil
ISBN 10: 0500285241 ISBN 13: 9780500285244
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