THE HEART OF THE FOREST by Adrian Cowell
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THE HEART OF THE FOREST

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This is the autobiographical account of a young Englishman who spent several months among the Indians in the heart of Brazil. It is delightful reading, while scarcely an ordinary travel book. The Centro Expedition (which Adriano, as he was known to the Indians, joined) was led by Orlando Villas Boas and was part of an immense plan to develop Brazil by shifting its capital from the coast into the center of its vast natural resources. The expedition's job is to discover this geographical center, and burn an airstrip there. What Adriano's account becomes, unobtrusively, is a sensitive, understanding record of a doomed way of life. Central Brazil is still the most remote and savage part of the world and the Villas Boas brothers had worked among Indians who will kill strangers at sight, establishing friendship, dispensing medicine and a few goods, not with any ordinary missionary intent but in the hope of making the imminent shift to civilization less lethal. Adriano, paddling with the brothers down the jungle waters of the Xingu, learns to hunt and to go hungry with the Indians to understand the language and workings of a wholly ""functional"" (survival) mind, and he himself experiences a few dangerous moments from Indians and animals. There are no heroics, but an unassuming humor and a very observant eye as he describes the jungle life and tribes already reduced by half-seen pressures. It is absorbing and perhaps one of the most charming accounts of primitive life ever written by a ""civilizado"".

Pub Date: March 20th, 1961
Publisher: Knopf