Tree of Rivers: The Story of the Amazon

Overview

“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...
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Tree of Rivers: The Story of the Amazon

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Overview

“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.
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Editorial Reviews

The Explorers Club Journal
“Tree of Rivers is a great historical narrative and an important lesson in human behavior.”
Candice Millard
Hemming's most recent book, Tree of Rivers, covers ground familiar to anyone interested in the history of the Amazon. What makes the book important and, in many ways, even remarkable, are the breadth of the author's experience and the depth of his understanding. Throughout, Hemming scatters modest references to his own extraordinary journeys. As an aside, while discussing the river's multitude of swift, rapids-studded tributaries, he recalls that he was once nearly swept to his death in one. When explaining the potentially deadly diseases that Amazon explorers and natives alike have long suffered, he casually mentions that he has twice endured the searing fever and bone-grinding chills of malaria. Having cut trails through dense, remote rain forest, and having felt the sickening and very real danger of becoming hopelessly lost, he understands much better than most the extraordinary skill it takes for indigenous people to navigate their world.
—The New York Times
Edgardo Krebs
The stories John Hemming tells in Tree of Rivers are a passionate corrective to many stereotypes of this complex area and its history. An explorer, former director of the Royal Geographical Society and author of three scholarly books on the Amazon as well as one on the conquest of Peru, Hemming has dedicated a lifetime of research to the Amazon and knows his vast topic with a rigorous intimacy. The book has 11 chapters, spanning a range of historical periods and subjects, from the little publicized (but engrossing) archaeology of the region to present-day problems of deforestation and climate change. Each chapter is a self-contained essay. Taken together, they read like the Thousand and One Nights of the Amazon, a rich, multifaceted narrative that strives to mirror the place itself.
—The Washington Post
Chicago Botanic Gardens
“Remarkable… Sure to become a classic.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780500288207
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson
  • Publication date: 11/30/2009
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 577,287
  • Product dimensions: 6.70 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Formerly the Director of the Royal Geographical Society in London, John Hemming has traveled in and written extensively about the Amazon region. His previous books include Tree of Rivers (978-0-500-28820-7), which was praised by the New York Times for “the breadth of the author’s experience and the depth of his understanding.”
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Table of Contents

1 Arrival of Strangers 13

2 Anarchy on the Amazon 48

3 The Empty River 73

4 Directorate to Cabanagem 97

5 A Naturalist's Paradise 129

6 The Rubber Boom 175

7 The Black Side of Rubber 198

8 Explorers and Indians 232

9 Archaeologists Find Early Man 270

10 Planes, Chainsaws and Bulldozers 289

11 The Largest River in the Largest Forest 325

References 346

Picture Credits 364

Index 365

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