I specialize in reviewing Print-On-Demand (POD) published books for my website and Midwest Book Review. Please query for a review by email to hgunther234@hotmail.com.

Monday, July 09, 2007

by Lucy Kavaler
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Rd, Lincoln, NE
Genre: Nonfiction/Educational/Nature
Rating: Excellent
ISBN: 059543679x, $22.95, 320 pp.

Mushrooms, Molds, and Miracles is a fascinating book! One might not think so from its title and though it is not filled with beautiful pictures of the subject matter, Lucy Kavaler does an exceptional job of organizing and narrating her subject to the point that it is difficult to put down. This scientific book is organized into six sections: Fungi and Mankind, Fungi as Food, Fungi and Your Health, Fungi and Our Crops, Fungi and the Things You Use, and Fungi and the Conquest of Space . . . and then into sub-chapters.

As fungi are an integral part of our lives, this book should appeal to just about everyone. Would you like to know about edible mushrooms, the Irish potato famine or the mold that changed medical history? How about mind drugs (LSD-25) or the search for life? Lucy Kavaler has covered all facets of fungi and presented this information in a most readable manner. Her book is well written, well edited, and here’s a sample of her writing style from page 167:

"The cult of the sacred mushroom moved to the United States as a result of its shattering effect on Dr. Timothy Leary, a handsome thirty-nine-year-old Harvard lecturer on psychology. While visiting in Cuernavaca, Mexico, in the summer of 1960, Leary was given a mushroom which a friend had bought from a native woman called ‘Crazy Juana.’

"‘I realized that I had died,’ he said after recovering from the effects, ‘that I, Timothy Leary, the Timothy Leary game was gone. . . . I went back in time in an evolutionary sense to where I was aware of being a one-celled organism.’

"Leary returned to Harvard with a sense of mission. He was in a position to influence others, being no crackpot, but a possessor of a Ph.D. in clinical psychiatry. He had left a position as director of psychological research at the Oakland (Calif.) Kaiser Foundation to join Harvard’s Center for Research in Personality in 1959. His experience with the mushroom struck him as being remarkably similar to those described by Aldous Huxley in his book, The Doors of Perception. Huxley’s visions had been induced by mescaline, a drug derived from the peyote cactus and also used for centuries by the Mexican Indians. Under its influence, Huxley said that he could see in a small vase of flowers ‘what Adam had seen on the morning of creation.’ Leary discussed the nature of the drug experience with Huxley who was at that time a visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology."

Interested? . . . want more? Read Lucy’s book . . . it’s absolutely fascinating.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - July 9, 2007