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Tree of Rivers: The Story of the Amazonby John Hemming
Synopses & Reviews
A history of the Amazon, its peoples, and those who have explored the river by an author with unsurpassed knowledge and experience in the region.
By far the world's largest river, the Amazon flows through the greatest expanse of tropical rain forest on earth. Human beings settled in Amazonia ten thousand years ago and learned to live well on its bounty. Europeans first saw the Amazon around 1500 and started settling there in the seventeenth century. Always in fear or awe of the jungle, they tried in vain to introduce crops and livestock.
John Hemming's account of the river and its history is full of the larger-than-life personalities this unique environment attracted: explorers, missionaries, and naturalists among them. By the nineteenth century, Amazonian natives had almost been destroyed by alien diseases and slavery, as well as violent class rebellion. Although the rubber industry created huge fortunes, it too was at a fearful cost in human misery.
In the last hundred years, the Amazon has seen intrepid explorers, entrepreneurial millionaires, and political extremists taking refuge in jungle retreats. Alongside them, natural scientists, anthropologists, and archaeologists have sought to discover the secrets of this mighty habitat.
Today, the world's appetite for timber, beef, and soya is destroying this great tropical forest. Hemming explains why the Amazon is environmentally crucial to survival and brilliantly describes the passionate struggles to exploit and to protect it. 70 illustrations, 20 in color.
“In his long career of exploration and scholarship, Hemming has become a powerful advocate for the Amazon.”—The New York Times, John Hemming
Amazonia is one of the most magnificent habitats on earth. Containing the world’s largest river, with more water and a broader basin than any other, it hosts a great expanse of tropical rain forest, home to the planet’s most luxuriant biological diversity.
The human beings who settled in the region 10,000 years ago learned to live well with its bounty of fish, game, and vegetation. It was not until 1500 that Europeans first saw the Amazon, and, unsurprisingly, the rain forest’s unique environment has attracted larger-than-life personalities through the centuries. John Hemming recalls the adventures and misadventures of intrepid explorers, fervent Jesuit ecclesiastics, and greedy rubber barons who enslaved thousands of Indians in the relentless quest for profit. He also tells of nineteenth-century botanists, fearless advocates for Indian rights, and the archaeologists and anthropologists who have uncovered the secrets of the Amazon’s earliest settlers.
Hemming discusses the current threat to Amazonia as forests are destroyed to feed the world’s appetite for timber, beef, and soybeans, and he vividly describes the passionate struggles taking place in order to utilize, protect, and understand the Amazon.
About the Author
Director and Secretary of the Royal Geographical Society in London from 1975 to 1996, John Hemming is an expert on the Incas and the indigenous peoples of the Amazon. His books include Tree of Rivers, Monuments of the Incas, and the prize-winning The Conquest of the Incas.
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