In the 16th century, when explorers travelled deeper into the jungles of South America in search of gold and spices, they brought back many colourful tales of their adventures to amaze and impress their sponsors. None of these tales was more astonishing, or caused more concern, than that of the mystical properties of the substance with which the natives anointed their darts and arrows. They described, in some detail, 'the flying death', caused by the magical South American arrow poison...So begins the astonishing true story of the discovery of one of the most important substances in medical science. Curare poison was to become the cornerstone of modern anaesthetics and went on to provide the key to how we understand the nervous system, leading to drugs as diverse as diarrhoea pills to Prozac, beta-blockers. More recently it has led to our understanding of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. In this fascinating book Professor Stanley Feldman traces the evolution of a substance that has saved countless lives and revolutionised the way we see our minds and bodies.