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The Lost Amazon: The Photographic Journey of Richard Evans Schultes

Davis, Wade; Schultes, Richard [Photographer]; Weil, Andrew [Foreword];

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ISBN 10: 0811845710 / ISBN 13: 9780811845717
Published by Chronicle Books, 2004
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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Lost Amazon: The Photographic Journey of...

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Publication Date: 2004

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: New

About this title


Richard Evans Schultes (1915-2001) was probably the greatest explorer of the Amazon, and regarded among anthropologists and seekers alike as the "father of ethnobotany." Taking what was meant to be a short leave from Harvard in 1941, he surveyed the Amazon basin almost continuously for twelve years, during which time he lived among two dozen different Indian tribes, mapped rivers, secretly sought sources of rubber for the US government during WWII, and collected and classified 30,000 botanical specimens, including 2,000 new medicinal plants. Schultes chronicled his stay there in hundreds of remarkable photographs of the tribes and the land, evocative of the great documentary photographers such as Edward Sheriff Curtis. Published to coincide with a traveling exhibition to debut at the Govinda Gallery in Washington, D.C., The Lost Amazon is the first major publication to examine the work of Dr. Schultes, as seen through his photographs and field notes. With text by Schultes's protege and fellow explorer, Wade Davis, this impressive document takes armchair travelers where they've never gone before.

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.

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