Explorers of the Amazon

Anthony Smith, Author Viking Books $21.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-670-81310-0
Christmas, 1541: Francisco de Orellano and 57 Spanish soldiers set off downstream from the headwaters of the Amazon in Ecuador; nine months later, they reached the Atlantic Ocean. In this history of Amazon exploration, Smith ( The Great Rift ) writes of mutiny and murder, miraculous survival, shifts in world power and international rivalries. A 1637 Portuguese expedition was the first to journey upstream to Quito, and a century later, the French made the first scientific studies of the region. Smith follows the trail of Alexander von Humboldt and Aime Bonpland up the Orinoco to their discovery of a natural link with Amazon waters in 1800. En route the pair collected and measured everything they could reach. We also meet 19th-century Englishmen Richard Spruce and Henry Wickham, who snatched the greatest prizes of the Amazon--seeds of the chinchona (source of quinine) and rubber trees. Later, in 1913, a young American traveler, Walter Hardenburg, brought to light the evils of the rubber industry. The book will appeal to travel and adventure buffs. Illustrated. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
Paperback - 344 pages - 978-0-226-76337-8
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