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History Of Shrooms

By Dr. Markho Rafael

Andy Letcher’s 2006 book on the history of magic mushrooms is definitely a must read for anyone with an interest in shrooms; which is not to say that you will necessarily like it. In fact, the intellectual, scientific and clinical analysis provided by the author may actually annoy you. But you still need to read it!

Why? Because there is probably no other human alive besides Letcher that has read practically every piece of information ever published about magic mushrooms. And he has been good enough to put it together for us in a compact book of only 300 pages. (384 with reference section and index.)

The most important portion of the book tells the story of how Gordon Wasson discovered Mexican indigenous use of Psilocybe mushrooms in healing and spiritual practices. Another major section relates the traditional Siberian use of Fly agric in shamanism and for recreation.

The second half of the book gives a fascinating account of the spread and undulating popularity of magic mushrooms through North America and Europe, and to a lesser degree also Australia-New Zealand. The British hippy festivals of the late 70′s and early 80′s, where shrooms were a mainstay, are delved into. And of course the American magic mushroom advocate Terence McKenna receives much attention.

My only reservation to this book is that Letcher seems to side too much with the skeptics of the various theories of historic use of magic mushrooms, even when the arguments of those detractors are rather flimsy.

As an example, he makes the point that the famous ancient rock paintings in the Sahara Desert, which many believe depict mushroom wielding shamans, could easily be interpreted differently. As a reader, one is left with the sense that because the interpretation of the petroglyphs as mushrooms may be wrong, therefore it is wrong.

Letcher’s critical analysis of the many theories on historic use of magic mushrooms would have been excellent if it had been balanced in terms of pros and cons, which it is not.

This lack of balance is especially blatant when one realizes that he uses the reality of a changing environment and flora as an argument against the possible use of magic mushrooms by Druids in a heavily forested ancient Britain even though it grows abundantly in British pastures today, while simultaneously arguing that the Fly agaric could not have been used in ancient Egypt because no Fly agaric related mushroom grows there today.

However, towards the end of the book, the author begins to be more balanced in his presentation. Several times he acknowledges that there is no objective way to be certain of various claims for or against something and that both viewpoints could be potentially valid. Kudos for that!

All in all, this book must surely be the most thorough and comprehensive account ever written on the history of magic mushrooms; in particular the more recent part of that history, relating to the past one hundred years or so.

In addition to magic mushrooms, Shroom is also an account of the history of psychedelics in general. Large portions of the book tell the stories of Aldous Huxley and mescaline, Timothy Leary and LSD, and the more recent use of ecstasy at rave fests.

So notwithstanding my reservations against Letcher’s slightly unbalanced presentation in the first half of the book, I really do think that anyone with a serious interest in magic mushrooms needs to read Shroom. There is no other book like it out there, I’m sure.

Order Shroom by Andy Letcher today! Dr. Markho Rafael graduated from Chiropractic College in 1996. He now specializes in studying and writing about herbal medicine. You can find additional reviews on mushroom books at

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Rafael, Dr. M. "History Of Shrooms." History Of Shrooms. 27 Jun. 2010. 4 Sep 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Rafael, D (2010, June 27). History Of Shrooms. Retrieved September 4, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Rafael, Dr. M. "History Of Shrooms"

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