COLLECTION OF GREAT EXPLORERS OF THE AMAZON, July 23, 2006
The Amazon has always been a source of dreams and threats to European explorers. In this volume, Anthony Smith selects a few explorers and adventurers who have sougth fame, honor, fortune or knowledge in the banks of the Amazon. The selection is a bit random with some characters, but overall provides a very interesting and readable collection of great men and women.
Devoting about 30-40 pages per explorer, the book covers the following: 1) Cabral, the discoverer of Brazil. He was never to the Amazon, so it is a bit unclear what he is doing in this volume. 2) Orellana, the first Spaniard down the Amazon, the first man to report seeing the Amazon women. 3) Aguirre, the madman who went down the Amazon in a murderous rage only to turn back and try to conquer Peru again. 4) Teixeira, the man who asserted Portuguese possession of the Amazon, sailing against the current up the Amazon. 5) Condamine, the first scientist down the Amazon. 6) The Godin's, one fo the greatest love stories in the world, where a woman, separated for 30yrs from her husband, goes down the Amazon to meet him. 7) Humboldt, the last renaissance man, does most of his scientific discoveries in the northern Amazon, including the famous Casiquiare canal. 8) Spruce and Wickham, two botanists and robbers of some of the wealth of the Amazon - cinchona and rubber trees. 9) Arana, the great and evil character of the Putumayo, where some of the greatest atrocities of the rubber boom were committed against indians.
These stories are well told, though some important characters are not listed -- Wallace and Bates, for example. Highly recommended though, as a door to finding out more about this great region and its history.