The Third Bank of the River: Power and Survival in the Twenty-First-Century Amazon

Chris Feliciano Arnold. Picador, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-09894-8
Arnold draws on his extensive reporting in the Brazilian Amazon and joins it with history, memoir, and travel writing in this well-crafted debut. The book starts with Arnold’s recollection of covering the 2014 FIFA World Cup matches in Manaus, a city in the Amazon rainforest, and closes as the torch relay passes through Manaus ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics. In between, Arnold provides snapshots of major news stories in the Amazon region: the emergence of an isolated indigenous tribe beset first by drug traffickers and then disease; a war between organized crime and rogue cops; and the aftereffects of a huge hydroelectric dam project. Arnold also includes contextual history (the original colonization by the Spanish and Portuguese, the atrocities of the rubber trade) and his own personal story of returning to Brazil, his birthplace, at 25 after being adopted as a child and raised in the U.S. Arnold handles all of the narrative strands expertly and shows a keen eye for detail (“A middle-aged woman with bottle-blonde hair, she entertained a few questions as she counted up the wrinkled bills in her cash register”). The reader leaves with a newfound understanding of the diversity, complexity, and corruption to be found in the modern Amazon. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/02/2018
Release date: 06/05/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-1-250-09893-1
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