"Explorers of the Amazon" vividly describes how European explorers such as Pedro Cabral, Francisco De Orellana, Lope de Aguirre, and Madame Godin encountered the vast wilderness of the Amazon basin; how they searched, exploited, and fought over its riches; and what they learned and failed to learn through four centuries of adventure. Anthony Smith not only enriches this history with fascinating geographical, political, and scientific details but also gives a strong warning to those who continue to exploit this great river's resources.
"The history of Amazonian exploration, wonderfully told by Anthony Smith, is awash with madness--an extravagant mixture of the malevolent and the miraculous."--Stephen Mills, "Times Literary Supplement"
Astute scholarly history of Amazonian exploration, with an enjoyable emphasis on outre personages. Smith (Goodbye Gutenberg; The Geopolitics of Information; etc.) plunges into these tropical waters with relish, reminding us that "the Amazon is the superlative river" - containing 20% of the world's river water, so big and remote that no bridge spans it over 3900 miles of its length. A big stream, then, attracting big egos - perhaps the only exception being the obscure explorer Pedro Cabral, who "discovered" the river in 1500. Close on his heels came the conquistador Francisco Orellana, first European to travel down the Amazon; Orellana's heels were nipped in turn by the messianic madman Lope de Aguirre (played with drooling gusto by Klans Kinski in Werner Herzog's Aguirre, the Wrath of God), a tomb-robber, mutineer, and would-be Emperor of Peru. More civilized visitors included Charles Marie de la Condamine and Baron Alexander von Humboldt, both of whom helped forge a new tradition of Brazilian exploration by scientists rather than adventurers. Smith dotes as well on the marital misadventures of the charming Godins - separated for two decades by the length of the Amazon, reunited following Madame de Godin's epic trek across the continent. Reports on British botanists and American muckrakers round out the river tour. Dashing, detailed history, with a serious undertone: Smith warns that within 30 years, only five percent of the Amazonian trees will be left standing - thanks to industrial pillaging - and the Amazon of this sprightly book will be no more. (Kirkus Reviews)
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Number Of Pages: 344
Published: 1st January 1990
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.3 x 15.3 x 2.34
Weight (kg): 0.49
Edition Type: New edition