The saga begins when the unnamed middle-aged male narrator whimsically quits his nondescript life to track down an ancient Peruvian manuscript (pretentiously called the Manuscript) containing nine Insights that supposedly prophesy the modern emergence of New Age spirituality. South of the border, he encounters resistance from the Peruvian government and church authorities, who believe the document will undermine traditional family values. While dodging evil soldiers, paranoid priests and pseudoscientific researchers, our hero sequentially discovers all nine Insights during a series of chance encounters.
James Redfield was born near Birmingham, Alabama and studied psychology at Auburn University. Redfield earned a master's degree in counseling in 1974 and for the next 15 years worked as a therapist for troubled children in Auburn, Alabama, and later in Birmingham.