Amazon River

The Spears of Twilight: Life and Death in the Amazon Jungle

By Philippe Descola

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“The Jivaro Indians of Amazonian Ecuador have earned a somewhat sinister reputation among travelers and anthropologists because of their custom, only recently abandoned, of shrinking the decapitated heads of enemies. Descola, an anthropology professor in Paris, spent three years living among a Jivaro tribe, and this engrossing, minutely detailed chronicle of daily life gets past exotic stereotypes to delineate a band of individualists oscillating between gentle anarchy and factional solidarity. Obsessed with bloody vendettas against neighbors or relatives, the tribal group nonetheless reverentially communicates with a world of spirits, plants and animals, with the wandering souls of both the living and the dead. Descola explores Jivaro shamanism, dream interpretation, polygamy, marital violence against wives and the Jivaros' loose-knit, fluid cosmology, which makes no effort to impose coherence on the world. Sprinkled with Jivaro songs, chants, myths and the author's line drawings, this lyrically precise exploration of a people's lifestyle and consciousness is a work of enchantment.” (Publishers' Weekly)

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The Mapmaker's Wife: A True Tale of Love, Murder, and Survival in the Amazon

By Robert Whitaker

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At the heart of this sweeping tale of adventure, discovery and exploration is one woman's extraordinary journey, inspired by her love for a man she had not seen in 20 years. In 1769, Isabel Grameson - an upper-class Peruvian woman who had lived all her life close to home - set out across the Andes, and down the length of the Amazon in order to rejoin her husband in French Guiana. Her 3,000-mile trek through untamed wilderness was one that no woman (and few men) had made before. (Book jacket)

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Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice: An Ethnobotanist Searches for New Medicines in the Amazon Rain Forest

By Mark J. Plotkin

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“The thrilling account of the 13 years Plotkin, vice-president of Ethnobotany at Conservation International in Washington, spent in the northeastern Amazon's primeval rain forest is a first-rate travel and adventure tale in which scientific lore, passionate advocacy of conservation and literary gifts are combined. Thanks to the trust and friendship the author inspired among the declining number of powerful shamans ("witch doctors") and other Indians who considered him a "harmless oddball," they welcomed him at tribal rituals and assisted him in identifying plants (60,000 yet unknown species, used to treat ills from testicular cancer to earache). They even shared secrets for making curare poison and other hallucinogens (which he tried). The author has also succeeded in having the indigenous people share in the profits from their plant-derived wonder drugs, and encouraged them to preserve their heritage of botanic lore and customs.” (Publishers’ Weekly)
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One River: Explorations and Discoveries in the Amazon Rain Forest

By Wade Davis

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In the 1940s, biologist Richard Evans Schultes uncovered many of the secrets of the rain forest, relying not only on his own prodigious investigations, but on the wisdom passed down by local tribes. Thirty years later his student, Wade Davis, followed in his footsteps. Two interwoven tales of scientific adventure bring to life the riches of the Amazon basin and bear witness to the destruction of its indigenous culture and natural wonders over two generations. (From the summary)

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Journey to the River Sea

By Eva Ibbotson

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Sent with her governess to live with the dreadful Carter family in exotic Brazil in 1910, Maia endures many hardships before fulfilling her dream of exploring the Amazon River. J Fic Ibb
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