Before heading to Amazon rainforest, I dedicated my time to book research and I read some very interesting books. Here is the list of top 5:
1. The Lost Amazon: The Photographic Journey of Richard Evans Schultes (by Wade Davis)
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.
2. The River (by Wade Davis)
In the 1940s, biologist Richard Evans Schultes uncovered many of the secrets of the rain forest, relying not only on his own prodigious investigations, but on the wisdom passed down by local tribes. Thirty years later his student, Wade Davis, followed in his footsteps. Two interwoven tales of scientific adventure bring to life the riches of the Amazon basin and bear witness to the destruction of its indigenous culture and natural wonders over two generations.
3. The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon (by David Grann)
In 1925, the legendary British explorer Percy Fawcett ventured into the Amazon jungle, in search of a fabled civilization. He never returned. Over the years countless perished trying to find evidence of his party and the place he called “The Lost City of Z.” In this masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, journalist David Grann interweaves the spellbinding stories of Fawcett’s quest for “Z” and his own journey into the deadly jungle, as he unravels the greatest exploration mystery of the twentieth century.
4. Savages (by Joe Kane)
The Huaorani were, until a few decades ago, one of the few truly isolated human societies left in the world. Living in the inhospitable Amazon lowlands of eastern Ecuador, they were known for centuries as violent defenders of the forest they called home as hunter-gatherers. Today, their rivers are poisoned, cancer and birth defect rates have skyrocketed, and their control of the forest they inhabit has largely left their hands. Savages is a first-person account of the conflict of the past few decades between Texaco (now owned by Chevron) and the Huaorani communities affected by their oil extraction endeavors in the Amazon.
5. Plants of the Gods: Their Sacred, Healing and Hallucinogenic Powers (by Richard Evans Schultes, Albert Hofmann, Christian Ratsch)
Three scientific titans join forces to completely revise the classic text on the ritual uses of psychoactive plants. They provide a fascinating testimony of these “plants of the gods,” tracing their uses throughout the world and their significance in shaping culture and history. In the traditions of every culture, plants have been highly valued for their nourishing, healing, and transformative properties. The most powerful of those plants, which are known to transport the human mind into other dimensions of consciousness, have always been regarded as sacred.