PART HISTORY, PART ACADEMIC ARGUMENT, WELL WRITTEN ABOUT A GREAT MAN, September 7, 2006
Though in modern Brazil the name Rondon is very well known, even with a state (Rondonia) named after him, few people know the reason for his fame and the particulars that drove him to be Brazil's greatest native explorer.
Rondon's name is attached to the telegraph service and indian protection. In this book, the author explores the history of the telegraph commission led by Rondon, from its humble beginnings after the Paraguay war to the great nation building plan to occupy the Amazon. It describes the successes and the organization that was put together to build the telegraph and then moved on to occupation of lands after the end of telegraph building.
There is a special chapter on the Rondon and Roosevelt expedition which uncovered the route of the Rio da Dúvida, later renamed Rio Roosevelt. In it the conflicts between the Americans (Roosevelt, his son and a few scientists) and the Brazilians are clear, as Rondon seeks to map correctly the route as they are running out fo food and getting dangerously sick.
An important section of the book is also devoted to Rondon's positivism and an explanation of the routes and beliefs of positivists in Brazil. Rondon was influenced during his military training and kept the beliefs of positivism as a religion to the end of his life. It guided much of his relationships with indians, seeking to bring them into an enlightened society and avoiding their contact with the church, which would be a strong nemesis of his throughout his life.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the life of Rondon or the history of nation building in Brazil. You will come out with a good understanding of the roots of the Brazilian republic and perhaps the reasons why Brazil has not faced as many internal fissures as most of its neighbors.