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The Wayfinders

Written by Wade Davis

Series Title: CBC Massey Lectures

  • 272 Pages
  • 9780887848421
  • 8.250" x 5.130"
  • NATURE / Ecology
  • SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural
  • SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General


Publication Date October 01, 2009

Every culture is a unique answer to a fundamental question: What does it mean to be human and alive? In The Wayfinders, renowned anthropologist, winner of the prestigious Samuel Johnson Prize, and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Wade Davis leads us on a thrilling journey to celebrate the wisdom of the world's indigenous cultures.

In Polynesia we set sail with navigators whose ancestors settled the Pacific ten centuries before Christ. In the Amazon we meet the descendants of a true lost civilization, the Peoples of the Anaconda. In the Andes we discover that the earth really is alive, while in Australia we experience Dreamtime, the all-embracing philosophy of the first humans to walk out of Africa. We then travel to Nepal, where we encounter a wisdom hero, a Bodhisattva, who emerges from forty-five years of Buddhist retreat and solitude. And finally we settle in Borneo, where the last rainforest nomads struggle to survive.

Understanding the lessons of this journey will be our mission for the next century. For at risk is the human legacy -- a vast archive of knowledge and expertise, a catalogue of the imagination. Rediscovering a new appreciation for the diversity of the human spirit, as expressed by culture, is among the central challenges of our time.

Short-listed for the Writers' Trust of Canada Non-Fiction Prize 2009

Short-listed for the Orion Book Award 2010


Wade Davis
Wade Davis is the bestselling author of several books, including The Serpent and the Rainbow, Light at the Edge of the World, One River, and Into the Silence, which won the prestigious Samuel Johnson Prize for nonfiction. He is an award-winning anthropologist, ethnobotanist, filmmaker, and photographer, and his writing and photographs have been widely published. Davis currently holds the post of National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence. He divides his time between Washington D.C. and northern British Columbia.


"...[Davis] does a solid job of debunking the notion that Western rationalism, espoused from the Enlightenment through to the present, is the only-or even the best-model for humanity." Walrus

"...cogent, fierce and provocative..." Montreal Gazette

"Davis writes powerfully and emotionally." Quill & Quire

"In The Wayfinders, Davis presents an eloquent and persuasive case for the contemporary value of these ancient cultures, not least because of what we might learn about how human societies can live sustainably on the planet." Canadian Geographic

"This year's Massey Lecturer presents his refreshing view, of examining ancient wisdom and indigenous cultures to help us find our own path, and it demands to be read." National Post