The River Sea: The Amazon in History, Myth, and Legend

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9781582434902: The River Sea: The Amazon in History, Myth, and Legend
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Since its discovery by Europeans in 1500, explorers, visionaries, soldiers of fortune, men of God, scientists, and slavers have been drawn to the legendary Amazon. The River Sea is a sweeping chronicle of those brave and hardy souls, ranging from the Spanish seafarer Vicente Pinzón, who discovered the river, to contemporary heroes and heroines, like Sister Dorothy Stang and Chico Mendes, whose efforts to save the rain forest cost them their lives.

Among the vast cast of characters who people this drama of the Amazon are Francisco de Orellana, the first European to traverse the river from the Andes to the sea; the fiery priest Bartolomé de las Casas, defender of the indigenous peoples; the great scientist explorers Alexander von Humboldt and Alfred Russel Wallace; the madman and psychopath Lope de Aguirre; and the Peruvian Evangeline, Isabel Godin, who in 1769 crossed the continent, braving the terrors of the jungles to reunite with her husband, whom she had not seen in twenty years.

The River Sea is a compelling account of five centuries of the history, the myths, and the legends of Río Amazonas, the most exotic and fascinating locale on earth.

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About the Author:

Marshall De Bruhl is the author of Firestorm: Allied Air Power and the Destruction of Dresden; Sword of San Jacinto: A Life of Sam Houston; and coeditor of the Internationals Thesaurus of Quotations. He was a book editor and publisher for many years, most notably of The Dictionary of American History and the Dictionary of American Biography. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina.

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Derived from firsthand accounts and secondary histories about Amazonian exploration, and informed by an authorial journey to South America, this work embraces discoverers, conquistadors, missionaries, naturalists, and environmentalists who have been mesmerized by the world’s most stupendous river. Throughout, De Bruhl injects landscape and geographical description into a narrative anchored to historical personages. This usefully depicts the imposing scale of the Amazon, from its width and length to its source in the craggy recesses of the Andes Mountains, as the daunting stage for the ambitions of those who would exploit it. After recounting the fall of the Inca in the era of Spanish and Portuguese conquest, for example, De Bruhl introduces various desperadoes who sought riches in the rain forest; he then describes the scientific expeditions—Alexander von Humboldt’s being the best remembered—that yielded their shares of discovery and drama. Sequencing from botanists such as Alfred Russel Wallace to Amazonian economic conflicts over rubber and deforestation, De Bruhl empathetically regales readers with an Amazon that is alluring, intimidating, and ecologically fragile. --Gilbert Taylor

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