Saturday, 5 December 2015

The Unconquered by Wallace Scott

This book is going straight to my favourites shelf. It will sit there in the company of other gems such as Arabian Sands by Wilfred Thesiger and The Road Gets Better From Here by Adrian Scott. Books that capture the people, the culture, the food, the environment, 'the message' in a way that few books do.

The Unconquered was hard to put down and by the end I did not want it to finish. In fact, I could have started it all over again. It is books like these that will forever have a treasured place in my memory. For teaching me so many new things, for opening my eyes to a place I have never been, to a culture I have never experienced. For taking me on a journey that I would like to have the courage to take myself. But mostly it is books like these that are the reason I read books in the first place.

Scott Wallace is a freelance journalist who is asked by National Geographic to join Brazilian Explorer Sydney Possuelo on an exploration of the Amazon in search of the Uncontacted Tribes. 

The flecheiros, the Arrow People, who live in the deepest bosom of the jungle in isolation, have never experienced white civilization. They are under pressure by the illegal loggers and prospectors (among other illegal activities) and are often hunted themselves by white men. Entire tribes are brutally and callously wiped out so the flecheiros cannot attack or interfere with illegal activities in protected Brazilian lands. Sometimes they are hunted and slain purely to cleanse the jungles of them as it is the presence of the uncontacted tribes that keeps large tracts of the Amazon protected.

This book had it all for me,excellent up close and personal description of the Amazon's unique ecosystem, action, adventure, tests of human endurance. The only problem I had, which wasn't a problem with the book itself, was that I didn't much like Sydney Possuelo. I think he would be a hard man to work for and to spend much time around and I am sure if I had been on this exploration, things would not have gone well. Much like everyone else on his team, I do not appreciate this type of personality. There is no doubt he has done some good in his former role in FUNAI, but he was lucky he didn't cause full scale mutiny in the middle of the green nowhere.


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