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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2011-08-08
- Reviewer: Staff
National Geographic writer Wallace recounts his grueling odyssey into the remotest stretches of the Amazon Basin as he tracks down the ”Arrow People,” one of the last “uncontacted” tribes left in the world. Wallace’s 34-member expedition was led by Sydney Possuelo, a legendary sertanista (a Brazilian hybrid of woodsman, explorer, and anthropologist). On the three-month trek by riverboat, canoe, and foot, the expedition was threatened by pumas, starvation, disease, hostile natives, and tensions that develop between men in close quarters. The mercurial Possuelo’s mission seems paradoxical—he wants to clearly identify the “Arrow People,” but only so that in the future they will be left completely alone. The book is overlong, and in the early chapters, Wallace tends to repeat grand pronouncements about culture, history, and the environment. His best writing focuses on the details and daily grind of the expedition and, as the book progresses, on the simple struggle for survival. Wallace nicely captures the hostility and paranoia that threaten to tear the group apart. He’s equally unsparing of his own insecurity and weakness, and the contrast between the threatened Amazon and the exhausted men brings the region’s harsh beauties to life. (Oct.)