Heavily into ginseng? Mean to try it some time? Never heard of it? It doesn't matter; this odd, enjoyable little book of ginseng lore is equally suited to confirm the believer and delight the unmotivated browser. The root of Panax ginseng, an inconspicuous plant found in Korea, Manchuria, and parts of Siberia, has held pride of place in the Chinese pharmacopeia for millennia. The name Panax is Greek for ""cure-all,"" and devotees still insist on its sovereign virtue against everything from insomnia to diabetes; at one time it was literally worth its weight in gold. Kimmens provides loosely arranged primary documents; some space is given to the modern history of the drug, with particular attention to the great American ginseng boom which followed the discovery of a nearly identical species in Canada and the northeast U.S. (it was the first large-scale Western export to China, and the rush continued until the plant had been virtually wiped out on this continent). But the bulk of the book is taken up with some fifteen charming Korean and Chinese folk tales about jen sen--children running away from wicked uncles being miraculously changed into ginseng spirits, or poor men made rich for life by coming upon the fabulously precious root. A tantalizing decoction.