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On June 6, 1924, two men set out from a camp perched at 23,000 feet on an ice ledge just below the lip of Mount Everest's North Col. George Mallory, thirty-seven, was Britain's finest climber. Sandy Irvine was a young Oxford scholar of twenty-two with little previous mountaineering experience. Neither of them returned. In this magisterial work of history and adventure, based on more than a decade of prodigious research in British, Canadian, and European archives, and months in the field in Nepal and Tibet, Wade Davis vividly re-creates British climbers' epic attempts to scale Mount Everest in the early 1920s. With new access to letters and diaries, Davis recounts the heroic efforts of George Mallory and his fellow climbers to conquer the mountain in the face of treacherous terrain and furious weather. Into the Silence sets their remarkable achievements in sweeping historical context: Davis shows how the exploration originated in nineteenth-century imperial ambitions, and he takes us far beyond the Himalayas to the trenches of World War I, where Mallory and his generation found themselves and their world utterly shattered. In the wake of the war that destroyed all notions of honor and decency, the Everest expeditions, led by these scions of Britain's elite, emerged as a symbol of national redemption and hope. Beautifully written and rich with detail, Into the Silence is a classic account of exploration and endurance, and a timeless portrait of an extraordinary generation of adventurers, soldiers, and mountaineers the likes of which we will never see again.From the Hardcover edition.
For more than 30 years, renowned anthropologist Wade Davis has traveled the globe, studying the mysteries of sacred plants and celebrating the world's traditional cultures. His passion as an ethnobotanist has brought him to the very center of indigenous life in places as remote and diverse as the Canadian Arctic, the deserts of North Africa, the rain forests of Borneo, the mountains of Tibet, and the surreal cultural landscape of Haiti. In Light at the Edge of the World, Davis explores the idea that these distinct cultures represent unique visions of life itself and have much to teach the rest of the world about different ways of living and thinking. As he investigates the dark undercurrents tearing people from their past and propelling them into an uncertain future, Davis reiterates that the threats faced by indigenous cultures endanger and diminish all cultures.
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.
In 1982, Harvard-trained ethnobotanist Wade Davis traveled into the Haitian countryside to research reports of zombies--the infamous living dead of Haitian folklore. A report by a team of physicians of a verifiable case of zombification led him to try to obtain the poison associated with the process and examine it for potential medical use.Interdisciplinary in nature, this study reveals a network of power relations reaching all levels of Haitian political life. It sheds light on recent Haitian political history, including the meteoric rise under Duvalier of the Tonton Macoute. By explaining zombification as a rational process within the context of traditional Vodoun society, Davis demystifies one of the most exploited of folk beliefs, one that has been used to denigrate an entire people and their religion.
Plugged by no fewer than twenty-five dams, the Colorado is the world's most regulated river drainage. The Colorado River provides most of the water supply of Las Vegas, Tucson, and San Diego, and much of the power and water of Los Angeles and Phoenix, cities that are home to more than 25 million people. If it ceased flowing, the water held in its reservoirs might hold out for three to four years, but after that it would be necessary to abandon most of southern California and Arizona, and much of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. For the entire American Southwest the Colorado is indeed the river of life, which makes it all the more tragic and ironic that by the time it approaches its final destination, it has been reduced to a shadow upon the sand, its delta dry and deserted, its flow a toxic trickle seeping into the sea. In this remarkable blend of history, science, and personal observation, acclaimed author Wade Davis tells the story of America's Nile, how it once flowed freely and how human intervention has left it near exhaustion, altering the water temperature, volume, local species, and shoreline of the river Theodore Roosevelt once urged us to "leave it as it is." Yet despite a century of human interference, Davis writes, the splendor of the Colorado lives on in the river's remaining wild rapids, quiet pools, and sweeping canyons. The story of the Colorado River is the human quest for progress and its inevitable if unintended effects--and an opportunity to learn from past mistakes and foster the rebirth of America's most iconic waterway. A beautifully told story of historical adventure and natural beauty, River Notes is a fascinating journey down the river and through mankind's complicated and destructive relationship with one of its greatest natural resources.
The Serpent and the Rainbow: A Harvard Scientist's Astonishing Journey into the Secret Society of Haitian Voodoo Zombis and Magicby Wade Davis
A scientific investigation and personal adventure story about zombis and the voudoun culture of Haiti by a Harvard scientist.In April 1982, ethnobotanist Wade Davis arrived in Haiti to investigate two documented cases of zombis--people who had reappeared in Haitian society years after they had been officially declared dead and had been buried. Drawn into a netherworld of rituals and celebrations, Davis penetrated the vodoun mystique deeply enough to place zombification in its proper context within vodoun culture. In the course of his investigation, Davis came to realize that the story of vodoun is the history of Haiti--from the African origins of its people to the successful Haitian independence movement, down to the present day, where vodoun culture is, in effect, the government of Haiti's countryside. The Serpent and the Rainbow combines anthropological investigation with a remarkable personal adventure to illuminate and finally explain a phenomenon that has long fascinated Americans.
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 the Amazon and the polar ice of the Arctic Circle, Shadows in the Sun is a testament to a world where spirits still stalk the land and seize the human heart. Its essays and stories, though distilled from travels in widely separated parts of the world, are fundamentally about landscape and character, the wisdom of lives drawn directly from the land, the hunger of those who seek to rediscover such understanding, and the consequences of failure. As Davis explains, "To know that other, vastly different cultures exist is to remember that our world does not exist in some absolute sense but rather is just one model of reality. The Penan in the forests of Borneo, the Vodoun acolytes in Haiti, the jaguar Shaman of Venezuela, teach us that there are other options, other possibilities, other ways of thinking and interacting with the earth." Shadows in the Sun considers those possibilities, and explores their implications for our world.