Amazonian Chronicles

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``The white presence, artificially imposed on other cultures, creates a destructive and hostile climate,'' state the authors in this passionate and powerful volume originally published more than 20 years ago in France and reissued recently there. Having lived among the Indians of the Amazon basin in the late '60s, cultural anthropologists Meunier and Savarin were angered about the treatment of the native peoples and pessimistic about their future. Here they review the history of Amazonia, from the explorers and missionaries of the 16th century to today's traders, miners and loggers. They report on their visits with shamans and storytellers, recounting a trip among the Chacobo Indians and a wild raft ride on the Yata River. Noting that storytelling is the consummate art of the Indians, Meunier and Savarin suggest that their propensity to integrate imagination into quotidian reality may be an antidote to the dehumanizing effect of Western culture. (Jan.)
Library Journal
The pressures of population and profit-driven capitalism have intensified the destruction of the Amazon and the massacre of its indigenous peoples. In this elegant plea to save the Amazon, the authors, both anthropologists, chronicle the conquest of the Amazon and the excesses committed in the name of progress from the arrival of Spanish and Portuguese soldiers and missionaries to the more recent activities of rubber barons and land speculators. Vividly portraying the social and economic realities threatening the Amazon, the authors construct an image of a world on the brink of disaster. They conclude that preservation of the Amazon is the preservation of the planet. Recommended for academic and public libraries.-- John M. Weeks, Univ. of Minnesota Lib., Minneapolis
Roland Wulbert
Although they recurrently raise issues of ecological stewardship and human justice, Meunier and Savarin do not have a single thesis to expound; nor do they have a properly circumscribed research topic; nor do they review a body of literature. Rather, they do not restrict themselves to any of those concerns any more than to the boundaries of an academic discipline or literary genre. The brief sections of their volume are by turns travel writing, anthropological observation, polemic, and romantic celebration of the noble savage despite antiromantic claims. Their history of Western profit seekers and soul savers in the Amazon basin is a fascinating model of literate scholarship, made up of such fascinating parts as an interpretation of the myths of the snake, a firsthand evocation of the fragrance of cedar in the Bari men's lodge, the daily round of a rubber tapper, the invention of the rubber tire by Michelin, Columbus' confident claim that the Orinoco River flowed from the literal paradise, etc.--all comprising not so much a sequentially developed book as a kaleidoscopic compendium, one that leaves the reader wanting even more.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780840095077
  • Publisher: Daedalus
  • Publication date: 1/28/1994

Table of Contents

Translator's Note
Authors' Preface
What Is an Indian? 1
The Myth of the Noble Savage 5
The Legend of Silbaco 10
The Myth of the Bad Indian 13
A New World 17
The Green Hell of Literature 19
Amazonia, from Orellana to Brasilia 31
The Quest for Rubber and Its Heroes 47
Indians 65
Primitive Conquests 67
War, Women, and Peace 80
Civilization or Corruption? 95
Genocide in Amazonia 109
Song of Silbaco: Notes from a Trip 131
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