According to Dr.Plotkin, Every time a shaman dies, it is as if a library burned down." Without the wisdom of the local people, the secrets are lost. Dr.Plotkin emphasizes that tropical forestry studies require a more holistic approach which includes an ethno-ecological dimension. The crisis also requires devising alternative economic strategies. He heralds initiatives such as, Shaman Pharmaceuticals Inc., and Healing Forest Conservancy. The latter is a non-profit organization set up to return all profits from new pharmaceutical developments back to the indigenous people.
The book reads like a novel but is full of information and facts on the secrets of the Amazon. Dr. Plotkin, formerly director of the plant programme at the Worldwide Fund for Nature, is now the vice president of Conservation International, an environmental organization based in Washington D.C..
The Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice, M.J. Plotkin, Penguin Books, ISBN 0-670-83137-9