Scott Wallace went on an approximately three month expedition led by Sidney Posseulo, then head of the Department of Isolated Indians, part of FUNAI, Brazil’s National Indian Foundation. His purpose was to write a profile for National Geographic about Posseulo and his work, and, thankfully, he had enough material to write this book about his expedition and the history and context of such expeditions on behalf of the Department of Isolated Indians. The goal of the trip was to find the outer boundaries of the Arrow People log the coordinates by GPS, and then have that area deemed protected by the government.
Although I haven’t read many travel/expedition books, my husband has read the good parts of books like The Lost City of Z to me. Also, I watch a ton of National Geographic specials. What’s different about this book than a TV special or a National Geographic spread is the depth of coverage about previous expeditions, including Fawcett’s ill-fated trip, which was covered in The Lost City of Z, the anthropology, the biology, and the governmental efforts to protect the lands of wild Indians in the Amazon. It’s a book that took me awhile to digest because there was so much for me to learn. Rubber harvesting, drug trafficking, gold dredging, Brazilian federal agencies: it’s all stuff about the Amazon I didn’t know that much about.
This is a harrowing read: nearly three months in the jungle, either by motor boat, on foot, or by canoe is a tough go even in good conditions, and there were dangers outside (crocodiles) and inside (fatigue and insubordination). Posseulo is an interesting figure, but I haven’t figured him out even from these detailed stories. I know I’m not cut out for an expedition of this length of time and difficulty in the Amazon, that’s for sure.
The Unconquered by Scott Wallace
CrownPublication date: October 18, 2011
Source: Publisher via NetGalley