cover image The Last of the Tribe: The Epic Quest to Save a Lone Man in the Amazon

The Last of the Tribe: The Epic Quest to Save a Lone Man in the Amazon

Monte Reel, Scribner, $26 (288p) ISBN 978-14165-9474-1

In his first book, Reel, the South American correspondent for the Washington Post, brings to life the ongoing struggle on the Brazilian frontier between Native Americans and land-hungry settlers. In 1996, government Indian agents began to investigate rumors of a single Indian living in an area of the Amazon Basin recently opened to development. The agents discovered that there was indeed an Indian, but he rejected all attempts at communication, going so far as to shoot arrows at anyone who approached him. The agents' attempt to make direct contact became a race against time as local ranchers did everything they could to ensure that the last Indian went the way of the rest of his tribe. Reel smoothly translates the complexities of the Brazilian frontier into an adventure narrative, without slighting his material. Reel focuses on the colorful Indian agents, who come across as a mélange of cowboy, hippie, and anthropologist. He also brings out the paradoxes that face a poor country torn between exploiting its resources and preserving its heritage. While the dramas of the rain forest and obscure Native American groups may seem distant to New York and Los Angeles, Reel demonstrates how the life and death of a lone Indian in Rondonia have consequences for the entire world. (July)