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Rio da Duvida

  1. Sep 26, 2007 #1

    Chris Hillman

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    Roosevelt: "Julio has to be tracked, arrested, and killed!"

    Rondon: "In Brazil, that is impossible. When someone commits a crime, he is tried, not murdered."

    Roosevelt: "He who kills must die. That's the way it is in my country".

    Place: hundreds of miles from the nearest settlement, on the banks of a river almost one thousand miles long, previously unknown to geography, deep in the Amazon rainforest.

    Date: April 3, 1913.

    Speakers: Col. T. R. Roosevelt, naturalist, journalist, soldier, politician, winner of the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize, former President of the U.S., and explorer. Col. Candido Mariano da Silva Rondon, soldier, nation-builder, explorer, and ardent advocate of Indian rights (later himself nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Albert Einstein).

    It's an extraordinary bit of (actual) dialog, and an extraordinary (true) story, from an unexpectedly good book by Candice Millard, The River of Doubt, Doubleday, 2005.

    One thing which impressed me is Millard's excellent description of the endlessly fascinating intricacies of tropical rainforest ecology, without getting in the way of a gripping story of survival (out of party of two dozen, only three perished--- this was by far the greatest adventure of T.R.'s eventful life; a day later he was very near death and an unmarked grave). Another is her insight into the characters of a most diverse collection of protagonists. And as you can see from the dramatic snippet of dialog (well attested from diaries of the members of the expedition), thought provoking.

    Millard speculates that the only reason anyone survived is that the cannibalistic Cinta Larga clans shadowing the explorers governed by concensus and couldn't agree on whether or not to eat the invaders--- possibly because they were not sure they were human, i.e. edible. Among American ex-presidents, who but T.R., who lost fifty pounds during the ordeal, would have put himself so readily in a situation where he stood an excellent chance of being eaten by somone who had never even heard of the United States of America?

    Sad to say, during Col. Rondon's long life, the population of indigenous peoples in Amazonia declined from about one million to one quarter of that number, through gunshot, disease, and enslavement to work rubber plantations under appalling conditions. It is happier to note that Col. Roosevelt's attitudes toward non-whites (which in his youth bordered on racism) were profoundly altered by his experiences on this journey.

    Highly recommended! Enjoy!
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2007
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