Amazon Men by Adam Courtenay Book PDF Summary
“Captivating . . . An examination of complex and contradictory human responses to the development of the Amazon and to its preservation” (The Australian). Amazon Men is about conquistadors and botanists, colonizers and human rights activists, slave traders and philanthropists—that is, people who have variously tried to conquer, rework, map, enslave, and save this region and its river system, each according to the needs and zeitgeist of their time in history. The environmental battles of today are part of a long-running story that’s been going on since Europeans first discovered this impenetrable ocean of green. For centuries there’s been a war of attrition between the greatest ecosystem and the greatest predator. Up until now, the predator has failed. Amazon Men is about those who’ve tried to conquer and exploit the Amazon—and those who’ve tried to understand and savor it. Conquistadors Francisco de Orellana and Lope de Aguirre play their parts as representatives of the Age of Discovery. Charles Marie de La Condamine is a perfect foil for the Age of Enlightenment. Alexander von Humboldt appears as a scientist of the Romantic age, seeking unity in the midst of chaos. Walter Hardenburg represents the machine age, defying the industrial imperatives of his time to oppose unfettered colonial capitalism. Sydney Possuelo, the greatest living Amazonian explorer, represents the ongoing conflict between modern expansion and environmental causes. What do their experiences tell us about our attitude to the unexplored and unknown? The stories of Amazon Men recount deeds of bravery and acts of brilliance, but also forgotten holocausts where guns, germs, and steel have all played their roles.