By Susanna B. Hecht
Publish yr note: First released December 1st 2011
The fortunes of the past due 19th century’s imperial and business powers trusted a unmarried uncooked material—rubber—with just one resource: the Amazon basin. And so begun the scramble for the Amazon—a decades-long clash that stumbled on Britain, France, Belgium, and the us battling with and opposed to the recent countries of Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil for the forest’s riches. in the course of this fight, Euclides da Cunha, engineer, journalist, geographer, political theorist, and one in all Brazil’s such a lot celebrated writers, led a survey day trip to the farthest reaches of the river, one of the world’s most dear, risky, and little-known landscapes.
The Scramble for the Amazon tells the tale of da Cunha’s terrifying trip, the incomplete novel born from it, and the worldwide strife that shaped the backdrop for either. Haunted by way of his damaged marriage, da Cunha trekked via a stunning zone thrown into chaos by means of guerrilla conflict, ravenous migrants, and local slavery. the entire whereas, he labored on his masterpiece, a nationalist synthesis of geography, philosophy, biology, and journalism he named the Lost Paradise. Da Cunha meant his epic to unveil the Amazon’s explorers, spies, natives, and brutal geopolitics, yet, as Susanna B. Hecht recounts, he by no means accomplished it—his wife’s lover shot him useless upon his go back.
At as soon as the biography of a unprecedented author, a masterly chronicle of the social, political, and environmental background of the Amazon, and an outstanding translation of the remainder items of da Cunha’s undertaking, The Scramble for the Amazon is a piece of exciting highbrow ambition.
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Additional info for The Scramble for the Amazon and the "Lost Paradise" of Euclides da Cunha
Da Cunha came of age in a period of cataclysmic transformation of the three central institutions that underpinned Brazilian life at the time: the monarchy, slavery, and the military. By the end of the last decade of the nineteenth century, Emperor Pedro II was gone, slavery was abolished, and the military had shifted from a commanded institution—one that had spent most of the nineteenth century chasing down runaway slaves, quelling local Chapter Two rebellions, and building infrastructure—to a key political actor in the creation and rule of the modern Brazilian state, where it took charge, on and oﬀ, for much of the twentieth century.
Life and Letters at Praia Vermelha Praia Vermelha was less of a military institution than an applied polytechnic school with a strong philosophical bent. With its focus on social philosophy and technical and military training, it provided a demanding curriculum for talented young men. Devoted to the applied sciences such as engineering and survey, such an institution allowed one to learn the skills that were deﬁning technical and economic progress in Europe and the United States and mimicked to a certain degree the ﬁeld training of the British Royal Geographical Society.
There were small-scale slave producers of provisions and tobacco, slave cowboys from the cattle and horse traditions of what is today the interior of Nigeria and Sudan, and specialized slave “folk geologists” from Ghana’s Mina ports—the “Gold Coast” for the mines of Minas Gerais, Mato Grosso, and Goiás. There were black slaves in the cacao plantations of the Amazon; there were Africans and indentured natives who rowed upriver to collect all the extraction products for the international markets, including quinine, turtle fat, brazil nuts, and the parrots and monkeys that everyone loved.
The Scramble for the Amazon and the "Lost Paradise" of Euclides da Cunha by Susanna B. Hecht