Where the Gods Reign: Plants and Peoples of the Colombian Amazon

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While the core of VINE OF THE SOUL (the companion book to WHERE THE GODS REIGN), is the Amazonian plant life and the indigenous people's uses for it, WHERE THE GODS REIGN focuses primarily on the people themselves-though of course, Schultz (who was dubbed the father of ethnobotany by Prince Philip himself) is first and foremost a botanist and plants do figure into the mix: Schultes describes devil's gardens-empty patches in the otherwise thick forests where, for no apparent (or scientific) reason, nothing will ...
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Overview

While the core of VINE OF THE SOUL (the companion book to WHERE THE GODS REIGN), is the Amazonian plant life and the indigenous people's uses for it, WHERE THE GODS REIGN focuses primarily on the people themselves-though of course, Schultz (who was dubbed the father of ethnobotany by Prince Philip himself) is first and foremost a botanist and plants do figure into the mix: Schultes describes devil's gardens-empty patches in the otherwise thick forests where, for no apparent (or scientific) reason, nothing will grow-with the same precision and wonderment with which he discusses the many plants that grow upon other plants in their effort to get their share of the sun…and much more.

But in this fine volume he begins with information about the histories of the various tribes and the lay of the lands on which they live; savannahs, dense forests, quartzite cliffs, sandstone mountains and caves and thunderous waterfalls are all accounted for; and all of his lyrical essays are accompanied by stunning black and white photographs. (There are over 140 photos in the book.) Schultes is often poetic here as well, describing not only the geography but, often, the exquisite emotions one experiences observing it in different seasons or different times of the day.

Likewise, Schultes describes the people lovingly. He delights in their ability to be happy in spite of poverty, sickness, and, particularly in the case of the women, very hard work. He marvels at their relationships with animals, many of which they tame, so that their homes are surrounded by birds, monkeys, deer, and even boa constrictors (which live in the rafters and keep the mice and rat populations at bay). He marvels that while the children are almost never punished and enjoy a high degree of freedom (especially the boys), they show great respect for their elders as well as a great curiosity and appreciation for their surroundings.

Schultes' pleasure-in the land and its people-is our pleasure. He is a remarkable scientist and a most eloquent guide. Reading WHERE THE GODS REIGN is probably as close as most of us will ever get to the kind of experience Schultes had staying in Amazon basin and learning about the many very different alternatives to living a life. But one can't help but long for that experience too. The book threatens to make explorers out of all of us-and a reader can't help but be disheartened upon remembering that there is not much left to explore.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Richard Schultes is a true ethnobotanist, the incarnation and almost the inventor of this discipline ... Where the Gods Reign is a picture book, ... of great beauty and tranquility ... full of fascinating information." --Sir John Hemming, Times Literary Supplement

"Where the Gods Reign is a magnificent book by one of the greatest Amazon explorers of this century -- a must for the library of any Amazon oriented person."
--Sir Ghillean Prance, Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew.

"The numerous photographs are at once spectacular, beautiful, fascinating, and of excellent quality ... It is likely that only Professor Schultes has had or ever will have the resources to produce such ... a remarkable book."
--Willard Van Adsall, Journal of Ethnobiology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780907791133
  • Publisher: Synergetic Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/1990
  • Pages: 306

Meet the Author

Known as the father of contemporary ethnobotany, he has carried out extensive field studies, particularly in the Amazon. He received numerous awards including the Cross of Boyaca, Colombia's highest honor, and the annual Gold Medal of the World Wildlife Fund. In 1987 he received the prestigious Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, and in 1992 he was awarded the Linnean Gold Medal, the highest award a botanist can receive. Dr. Schultes was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Linnean Society of London.
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