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Tales Of A Shaman's Parentice Summary

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Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice by Mark J. Plotkin PhD

Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice chronicles the interesting journey of the Harvard graduate and ethnobiologist Mark J. Plotkin as he attempts to record what’s left of the slowly dying art of shamanism and traditional medicine, particularly in the northern part of South Africa. The book does an excellent job of relating important medicinal discoveries to their origins in nature and traditional medicine. In this way, the book cleverly mixes the subject of medicine and history in a way that I believe will be interesting for pharmacy students. Throughout my reading of the book, I enjoyed how it felt as though I as the reader got to go on this journey with him to all these interesting locations
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In particular, the number of times that Plotkin ended up endangering himself like the time he collapsed from an ear ache and experienced his own healing ceremony or when he was almost certain that he had contracted rabies from a vampire bat that attacked him, were extremely fun to read about. By the end of the book I believe I took more away from it as a conversationalist book than one to explicitly learn about traditional medicine. I expected it to be more of a clinical look at the culture and the medicine that were found, but instead I thought the book was more documenting the decline of tribal culture as seen by Dr. Plotkin. At the beginning of the book it seems like with every chapter we would go deeper into the jungle and see more and more of the tribal culture, however starting at chapter six it becomes obvious that the cultures that had been visited before are on the edge of extinction. By the end of the book even the tribe that Dr. Plotkin had spent most of his time with had drastically been shifted to be westernized and it was obvious that many of the old teachings had been phased out. The fact that in the end I personally took away that it had less to do with medicine may not be everyone’s experience
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