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Wizard of the Upper Amazon

4.12  ·  Rating Details  ·  154 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Wizard of the Upper Amazon is an extraordinary document of the life among a tribe of South American Indians at the beginning of the 20th century. For many readers, the most compelling sections of the book will be the descriptions of the use of Banisteriopsis caapi, the ayahuasca of the Amazon forests. This powerful hallucinogen has long been credited with the ability to tr ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published January 27th 1993 by North Atlantic Books (first published 1971)
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Mar 26, 2014 wallacescott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating book. One of the most interesting things about it is what Rivas-Cordova describes as "collective dreaming" among the community. While a number of anthropologists dismissed this story at the time, I found it to be a credible tale. The collective dreaming seems to be corroborated by what Loren McIntyre described as telepathic "beaming" between himself and the headman of the band of Mayoruna who kidnapped him (recounted to Petru Popescu in his amazing book "Amazon Beaming").
Mar 20, 2015 Letitia rated it really liked it
Shelves: textbooks
This English account of the early like of Manuel de Cordova is an easy read, and just as fascinating as it is educational. My students began the semester with this book as a way to ease them into discussions of ethnocentrism, oral histories, isolated tribes and what it is like to be dropped into a completely foreign culture. We spent a great deal of time on the spiritual visions brought on by ayahuasca, and probed the neurological explanations versus a faith in the healing power of this hallucin ...more
Erik Graff
Jan 24, 2013 Erik Graff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: biography
One of the major problems of cultural anthropology, other than our rapid extermination of indigenous peoples, is that of perspective. Even with years of immersion, the trained anthropologist may be suspected of lacking much of the fundamental mindset of those studied. Wizard of the Upper Amazon, however, gives an account which may bridge the usual gap.

While a boy, Manuel Córdova-Rios became lost in the Amazon jungle and was rescued, adopted and raised by the Huni Kui. Years later, now a young ma
May 17, 2014 Scot rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spiritual, biography
An interesting account of a teenage cuacho (rubber tapper) capture by an interior Amazon forest-dwelling tribe that is taken in, assimilated and prepared to be their next chief. From an anthropological point of view, it is an excellent view into the organization and inner workings of the tribe. From a spiritual vantage point it is much more fascinating as it looks closely at the tribe's use of ayauasca for deep connection to the forest ecosystem that they inhabit and for fostering creative probl ...more

The great autobiography of Manuel Cordova Rios (with the help of Bruce Lamb). The movie "The Emerald Forest" was loosely based on this.

Apr 26, 2015 Cameron rated it it was amazing
Shelves: yanomami
In the late 1960s, F. Bruce Lamb was doing a forest survey in eastern Peru and was introduced to Manuel Córdova-Rios, who accompanied him as a guide. As they got to know each other, Lamb learned that Córdova had been kidnapped by the Amahuaca Indians at the age of 15 and had spent seven years living with them in an isolated region in western Brazil, until he escaped and returned to his family in Iquitos in 1914. The book is the story of his captivity, during which he learned the language of his ...more
Aug 24, 2009 John rated it liked it
Short, interesting account of a young Peruvian rubber-tapper's kidnapping and 7-years apprenticeship with the Huni Kui Indians of the Upper Amazon, especially of the regular collective visions sessions undertaken via the psychotropic root-based potion ayahuasca. "Guided" by their chief and led by rituals and chanting, participants of the sessions do experience collective visions, and the ayahuasca is essential in developing hightened sense-worlds and the relationship with the forest needed to pr ...more
Jul 30, 2011 Jason rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
The retelling of a true story, a younger cauchero (rubber harvester) is kidnapped by indians of the upper Amazon forest and trained to become a chief and medicine man. Through a regimen of hallucinogenic spirit journeys he learns and develops the skills and knowledge of these people that thrive in one of the most treacherous and beautiful landscapes on earth. These indians can SMELL different types of snakes before they see them, they can find a single insect making a noise in a multi-mile radiu ...more
Essa Merchanttiger
one of my favorite.
Carolyn Deboer
Feb 19, 2014 Carolyn Deboer rated it it was amazing
Nov 04, 2010 Bruce rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
An amazing book. The true story of a 15 year old boy kidnapped and raised by Amazonian indians in the early 1900's. Interesting on many levels, including but by no means limited to the use of Ayahuasca by the Indians. It's compelling for so many other reasons that I find the emphasis other reviewers and back cover endorsers place on the drug to be a bit sensationalist and annoying. The book-- highly recommended. The back cover-- you can skip it ;-)
Niklas Spitz
Aug 26, 2012 Niklas Spitz rated it it was amazing
A remarkable biographic adventure in the wild - a right of passage offering an insite into the resilience and constitution of a bigone era, of the profound relations of men and nature. A refreshing perspective of who we are, where we have come from and how we may continue to grow through our trials...
Dec 08, 2014 John rated it it was ok
Shelves: own, nonfiction, mexico
Cordoba did not a very good job of describing his time in captivity in my opinion. Perhaps the book was written for a teen aged reader as I could see such readers liking this book. Not me. The mind altering drugs were a bit far fetched for me also.
Oct 30, 2010 Pavlína rated it did not like it
Shelves: postponed
Bohužel, toto téma mě neoslovuje. Unesený chlapec, který poznává život v "necivilizovaném" kmeni indiánů v Horní Amazonii... Nu, tady jsem se nesešla se všeobecným vkusem. Asi.
Sep 04, 2008 Hope rated it really liked it
An amazing true tale of a young man held captive for years in the South American jungles by a primitive tribe of native indians -- a very exciting adventure story.
Evan Mantri
Jan 11, 2013 Evan Mantri rated it it was amazing
Wonderful short book about epic shaman, Ino Moxo.
Nov 19, 2008 Zipthwung rated it really liked it
Ethnobotany can be rad.
Anand Debusschere
Apr 15, 2015 Anand Debusschere rated it really liked it
Great book!
Nov 04, 2012 Anand rated it really liked it
Great book!
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Jonathan Church rated it it was amazing
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