I simply cannot express to you how much I love this book. If you have ANY interest in botany, Latin America, the Amazon and all the tributaries then please, please, please buy two copies of this book. The first, for you of course, and the second for a youngster in your life, someone showing promise through the love of the natural world. I have only set foot in the Amazon one time but that hyper brief trip was etched into my mind unlike any other location I’ve ever seen or experienced.
Everything Wade Davis pens is good. Everything. This book in particular is several books in one. A history of exploration of the Americas, a second book of botany, and a third book of biographies. Just know this, the people featured in this book, including the author, lived through a very different time and did things well beyond the capability of 99% of the humans I’ve ever met. (Including me.) Imagine paddling hundreds of miles through the jungle, with malaria, collecting unknown plants while interfacing with dozens of indigenous tribes. Imagine facing series food shortages, a plethora of deadly insects and vipers and treacherous waterways that didn’t offer second chances. And oh by the way, for months and YEARS at a time.
And this isn’t about bragging. This was about what was required to do what they were there to do. And this is about full and total commitment to a field of discovery. One River is a book that will haunt me for a long while. I know the places they describe are gone now, or at least their innocence but I still find myself closing my eyes and trying to remember the details of my own little excursion.