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Shadows in the Sun: Travels to Landscapes of Spirit and Desire

4.14  ·  Rating Details  ·  300 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
Wade Davis has been called "a rare combination of scientist, scholar, poet and passionate defender of all of life's diversity." In "Shadows in the Sun," he brings all of those gifts to bear on a fascinating examination of indigenous cultures and the interactions between human societies and the natural world.

Ranging from the British Columbian wilderness to the jungles of th
ebook, 304 pages
Published July 7th 2010 by Island Press (first published 1992)
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Aug 08, 2011 Regina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In typical Wade Davis fashion, this story reads like a storybook, teaches like a textbook, and ushers in adventure at every turn of the page! The enlightening combination of storytelling used in solid historical and scientific context paired with captivating subject matter allows for a wonderful expedition around the world! This trek not only entertains, but educates throughout the entire length of the journey to the very last page.

As an ethnobotanist, many of Davis' stories and essays incorpora
Oct 30, 2012 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
A great and varied read that gets stronger as it goes along. Wade Davis, the Harvard-trained ethnobotanist who also wrote "the Serpent and the Rainbow" and "Passage to Darkness: The Ethnobotany of the Haitian Zombie," is a very good writer and here, he brings stories of spirit and symbols, magic, plant intelligence, history, identity and what I'd call the yaw of the as-yet-unhomogenized cosmos, in Peru, Haiti... Resolute Bay, in the Arctic, Malaysia... it's all wondrous and informative. Here's a ...more
Apr 03, 2010 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is rare that a scientific-minded individual can write with the engaging fluidity of creative non-fiction author, but Wade Davis strides both worlds effortlessly. It never occurred to me that an ethnobotany could be so riveting. Wade Davis takes you to his homeland Canada, to the heights of Peru and the depths of the Amazon basin, to Haiti and Tibet in pursuit of the secrets of plants and how mankind has used them over the centuries. The accounts in this book of travels reveal mysterious pract ...more
Perrin Pring
After reading the first chapter of The Clouded Leopard, I was a little worried. I kept reading however, and the book greatly improved. Every chapter was completely different, which is why I think of this book in terms of chapters. Some chapters I learned a lot from, and some I was left wondering what I should have learned. Overall, Davis's message speaks to the conservation of culture and the environment. What I really found interesting were Davis's parallels between tradition medical advances a ...more
Aug 13, 2012 Mic rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't love every word that Wade Davis writes. He occasionally gets lost in superfluous details and overly romanticized descriptions. But every one of his books has at least several passages that perfectly harmonize the importance of seeing the world holistically, distill the importance of why one should care. The following is one of my favorite passages from this book:

"Sensitivity to nature is not an innate attribute of indigenous peoples. It is a consequence of adaptive choices that have resu
This book provides a collection of essays on Wade Davis' travels, especially amongst indigenous peoples of the world. There is detailed sections on various groups in North and South America. Although there is no broad single theme of the book, all of the essays in some way stress the need to embrace indigenous knowledge, and begin to halt the destruction of the natural environment.
A series of globe-spanning essays on the confluence of land and human culture - both our inherently destructive, all-consuming materialist culture and the well-adapted, respectful and harmonious culture of the indigenous. Davis is an ethnobotanist, an anthropologist concerned with plants and their human uses. He's been blessed with some serious traveling and immersion opportunities, and his intrepid spirit leaps of these pages. His writing is clear, strong and persuasive - although, while there ...more
Dec 06, 2012 Amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting. Had some cool mini sections about Peru, the coca leaf, ayuasca and san pedro. . . all names I heard often while in Cusco. Also gives the reader a really good idea of just how many medicinal plants are being destroyed everyday with the deforestation of the Amazon. How sad. . . It was kinda funny near the end of the book though. It pretty much seemed like a guy who loved trying out new natural psychadelics solely for the name of science. Still pretty cool bringing up the connection be ...more
Luce Cronin
Did not really like this book because it was way too disturbing, with nothing to cushion the blow. I was perhaps looking for something that this book was not meant to offer. It is beautifully written and takes on journeys with Wade Davis in very remote places.
Feb 08, 2012 Sewlyfluff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing accounts of different places and spaces throughout the world. The cultural exploration and diversity in this book had me hooked from the first page. It is a compilation of stories from around the world detailing the lives of little known cultures and the amazing rituals/traditions they have. This book made me want to be an anthropologist (unfortunately my Pre-History class took away that desire) but this will be a book that stays on my shelf forever. A must read for anyone interested in ...more
Noah Enelow
May 28, 2007 Noah Enelow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone except squares

Great collection of essays from a true adventurer. Fascination with visionary plants and traditional medicine, admiration and respect for indigenous cultures. The spirit of exploration and discovery. Occasionally the essays meander a little bit, like in "Smoking Toad." Others are focused explanations of the possible links between ecological disaster and economic crisis, as in the case of rubber ("White Blood of the Forest"). Davis has been referred to as the "real Indiana Jones," and this book w
Dec 10, 2011 Rosemary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, culture
I picked up this book on a whim at a local bookstore. I absolutely love it! Presented in short stories, the author recounts his experiences studying the spirituality of other cultures from an anthropologist's perspective. This can either be read in pieces or from cover to cover. I find myself in awe of this man's countless adventures in lands where I can only dream of visiting. A must-read for anyone interested in worldly spirituality.
Mar 06, 2016 Pablo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nolimits
A little uneven and a bit repetitive in parts, and yet the whole is still a very good and ultra - informative read. Encompassing everything from toad licking in the America's to clear cutting in Borneo, the author brings forth a number of unusual tales all rooted in the natural world. Much of his information in regards to loss of biodiversity and environmental ruin is utterly frightening and truly astounding. Solid 4 stars!
Harlan Wolff
Mar 17, 2013 Harlan Wolff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book of intelligence and beauty. This was Wade Davis before he became a household name on National Geographic TV. The author has followed the less travelled path of ethnobotany and knows more on the subject than any living writer. This is a book for anybody that is alive and can think. A monument of a book.
Aug 18, 2013 Cherie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A Wonderful collection of essays w an anthropological twist - Davis reflects on the Arctic ice, hallucinogenics of the Amazon and the US, the elusive clouded leopard of Tibet, Shamanic healing, smoking toads - really interesting, always with a deper look at the people. Fasinating reading, highly recommended.
Man, this guy has done incredible things.
Hit or miss with my interest level in the essays...but really good topics, and good writing. I would recommend this to anyone interested in "the environment," ethnobiology, or sacred places, for them to skim through to find the parts that interest them.
Aug 15, 2007 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bunch of great short articles about the plants, cultures, and atmosphere of the wilderness. Awesome beach book, and especially for those with shorter attention spans but a thirst for knowledge, this is a great book.
Jessica Green
Dec 14, 2014 Jessica Green rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009-books-read
I heard Wade Davis on NPR and immediately went out on bought his book. He's a fascinating person leading a fascinating life, but I felt that more listening to him speak than reading his work.
Julia Henderson
May 17, 2012 Julia Henderson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
had to take this steadily as it's an intense read, but some of the essays in here are magnificent..especially 'Dreams of a Jade Forest' about Bruno Manser, whom I'd never heard of before.
Leela Francis
Jul 24, 2013 Leela Francis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating, fun, wise, expansive, earth sustaining. I am so grateful for this existence of this man on our planet.
Leela Francis
Jan Horan
Enjoyed the mixing of science, research, mystical & sprit world with travel and adventure. Personal favorite.
Sep 17, 2009 Peggii rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Captivating look at indigenous cultures from around the world.
Was a recommendation from Paul
Feb 27, 2010 Mo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Short stories, mostly good but I found some of them uninteresting and never finished them.
Jun 18, 2012 Adrienne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Contains the amazing story of the Inuit poop-knife. 5 stars.
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Edmund Wade Davis has been described as "a rare combination of scientist, scholar, poet, and passionate defender of all of life's diversity."

An ethnographer, writer, photographer, and filmmaker, he holds degrees in anthropology and biology and received his Ph.D. in ethnobotany, all from Harvard University. Mostly through the Harvard Botanical Museum, he spent more than three years in the Amazon an
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“Sensitivity to nature is not an innate attribute of indigenous peoples. It is a consequence of adaptive choices that have resulted in the development of highly specialized peripheral skills. but those choices in turn spring from a comprehensive view of nature and the universe in which man and woman are perceived as but elements inextricably linked to the whole. ” 6 likes
“A simple intuition, a single observation, can open vistas of unimagined potential. Once caught in the web of an idea, the researcher is happily doomed, for the outcome is always uncertain, and the resolution of the mystery may take years to unfold. Such was the case in my encounter with the magic toads of the Americas.” 1 likes
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