It goes into quite a bit of depth on how this story came to be, the motivations, impact to culture as well as the impact to the indigenous tribe(primarily a single woman) that allowed LIFE magazine to cover this ritual.
Beyond psilocybin he covers the history of LSD, DMT and some more obscure psychedelics I hadn’t heard of.
If you have no knowledge or experience with psychedelics but want to understand why they became popularized and then demonized I recommend the book highly.
Most incredible to me is that Pollan, late 50s with a dim view of drugs and especially psychedelics, experiments with various different drugs in order to explore and describe their effects for the audience. Great author who does his research and great book.
Recommended read: "The Holy Mushroom: Evidence of Mushrooms in Judeo-Christianity: A Critical Re-Evaluation of the Schism Between John M. Allegro and R. Gordon Wasson Over the Theory on the Entheogenic Origins of Christianity Presented in the Sacred Mushroom and the Cross"  (as well as the original by John Allegro)
Here is a rare interview of John Allegro with Van Kooten & De Bie from 1976, Dutch public broadcast TV 
I'll have to try this sometime.
I would be curious about trying mushrooms and LSD and see how that works for me.
I wonder if it also requires some practice. If you start an intense sport it also takes a while for the body to get used to it so you can enjoy the tough moments. As beginner you just feel as if you are going to die. Maybe it's the same with psychedelics.
Psychedelics also have different effects on different people. My psychedelic experiences have manifested in largely time-related ways. With approximately 40-50mg DMT, I experienced the sensation of being dragged kicking and screaming, so to speak, through a time loop that began at the point of consumption, and ended at what was "now", and the sensation of being ping-ponged back and forth. My 100µmg LSD trip was much more subtle, almost feeling like I was a sinewave oscillating around the "axis of time", and at the points where I was perfectly in sync, there were no visuals and a perfectly clear mind, while at the "out-of-sync" parts, I felt like every moment was a "flutter" of time, and I felt like I was gently being "tugged" back to the aforementioned axis.
Highly subjective, and largely our brains interpret these experiences based on our already lived life, and the experiences that have shaped our psyche.
Be safe, be careful, be respectful of these substances, and they can teach you quite a bit about yourself and about reality. They can also help you dig deep and find potential solutions to psychological issues (but if care is not taken with regards to set and setting, those issues can be exacerbated).
Yes, a so-called "babysitter". Even more so with Ayahuasca. It is DMT with a MAOI. If you consumed MAO, it can be ranging from unpleasant to life threatening.
I'm still a fairly novice psychonaut. I tend to err on the side of caution, I'd rather have a lesser experience that's not as intense, over jumping in head first with a large dose.
Everyone reacts different. I, for one, am very sensitive to drugs in general (probably related to my autism).
My Ayahuasca came with top notch documentation (bought it from a smartshop), but otherwise a website like Erowid has likely good lists of which foods to abstain from and which foods to avoid. A sure way to achieve, is fasting. An alternative could be very light food intake. Take note of any medications you use as they likely interact (badly) with a MAOI. Once you got yourself informed and took the precautions there is nothing to worry about. Personally, I had no 24/7 sitter though I did inform my mother (whom I lived with), I was more than happy to be lonely, and I had the best visual experience ever (which were almost always rather disappointing on mushrooms). I also felt very lethargic though, a bit akin to Fly Agaric or feeling very stoned. The ability to lie down on bed (with music) was pleasant.
I'd say that's probably the most important effect.
Not advising you should take that much of course. Or even suggesting you take it again. Just saying if you feel like it, you can up the dose a quite a bit, put a blindfold in a cozy bed in a safe and quiet room, and the result may differ.
Also everybody is different. Some people just don't react much to psylocibin and there is nothing one can do :)
Also, note that was 40g of fresh truffles. That makes a difference.