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OAXACA JOURNAL

A National Geographic Direction Book
Author: Oliver Sacks

The best-selling author of Awakenings and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Sacks is well know as an explorer of the human mind—a neurologist with a gift for complex, insightful portrayals of people and their conditions. However, he is also a card-carrying member of the American Fern Society, and since childhood has been fascinated by these primitive plants and their ability to survive and adapt in many climates.

Oaxaca Journal is Sacks's spellbinding account of his trip with a group of fellow fern enthusiasts to the beautiful, history-steeped province of Oaxaca, Mexico. Bringing together Sacks's passion for natural history and the richness of human culture with his sharp eye for detail, Oaxaca Journal is a captivating evocation of a place, its plants, its people, and its myriad wonders.

From Booklist
Sacks is--besides a neurologist and a splendid stylist with a shelf of marvelous books to his credit, most recently Uncle Tungsten [BKL S 1 01]--a ferner. That is to say, not that he is an Englishman living in New York, but that he is an amateur pteridologist, one whose hobby is appreciating the ancient class of plants called ferns (and "the so-called fern allies"--clubmosses, horsetails, spike mosses, and whisk ferns--"my own preference," he says). In 1999, that avocation led him to spend 10 days in Oaxaca, Mexico, with other members of the American Fern Society, to whose greater pteridological erudition he modestly defers. He kept a diary, the basis for this book. Fortunately for most readers, he doesn't just describe the rare fern species he gets to see. He notes the exotic birds that two of his companions find as thrilling as the ferns; he admits, however, that he never saw any avians smaller than hawks and vultures, for he hasn't developed a birder's eyes. He lovingly relays what the group's excellent guide imparted of Oaxaca's history, its indigenes, the Zapotecs, and their ancient culture; he rhapsodizes over ruins and the technological and intellectual powers they bespeak; and he admires the people, the many exotic foods, the vistas, and the age-old industries of the towns he visits--all of this while his fellow travelers mostly keep on ferning. He says he wants to go back. Take us along, Dr. Sacks--please! Ray Olson
© American Library Association.
$10.95 (softcover)
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