An ethnographer, writer, photographer, and filmmaker, Wade Davis holds degrees in anthropology and biology and received his PhD in ethnobotany, all from Harvard University. Mostly through the Harvard Botanical Museum, he spent more than three years in the Amazon and Andes as a plant explorer, living among 15 indigenous groups in eight Latin American nations while making some 6,000 botanical collections. His work later took him to Haiti to investigate folk preparations implicated in the creation of zombies, an assignment that led to his writing Passage of Darkness (1988) and The Serpent and the Rainbow (1986), an international best seller that appeared in ten languages and was later released by Universal as a motion picture.
His other books include Penan: Voice for the Borneo Rain Forest (1990), Shadows in the Sun (1993), Nomads of the Dawn (1995), The Clouded Leopard (1998), Rainforest (1998), Light at the Edge of the World (2001), The Lost Amazon (2004), Grand Canyon (2008), Book of Peoples of the World (ed. 2008), and One River (1996), which was nominated for the 1997 Governor General's Literary Award for Nonfiction. Fire on the Mountain, a history of the early British efforts on Everest, will be published in 2009. Sheets of Distant Rain will follow.
A native of British Columbia, Davis, a licensed river guide, has worked as a park ranger and forestry engineer and conducted ethnographic fieldwork among several indigenous societies of northern Canada. He has published 150 scientific and popular articles on subjects ranging from Haitian vodoun and Amazonian myth and religion to the global biodiversity crisis, the traditional use of psychotropic drugs, and the ethnobotany of South American Indians.