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This is the story of three very young explorers who penetrated deep into virgin wildernesses of the Amazon jungle and there unwittingly contributed to the corruption of Indian tribes. Rather, that is the putative subject, the scheme to hang their story on. Of the three youths, only Fred Salazar had a very substantial claim as a bona fide explorer, since at twenty-one this was his third expedition into primitive civilizations. Much of the opening exposition is given over to Brazilian nightlife and drinking and wenching, which has only a limited relevance to exploration. And their observations while on the trail or living in Stone Age villages are not made with any genuine depth of inquiry. Still, their story is full of adventure, malaria, and danger--forced marches and portages between villages, sometimes hostile natives, and the everpresent piranha in the streams. Salazar has mingled admiration and disgust for the effects of Christian missionaries on the native life, for with ""civilization"" the natives are suddenly burdened with new needs--to own the artifacts of civilization. This breeds theft and envy, lust and murder, qualities the natives once had fairly well under control. The author's assumption of guilt for what's happened to the tribes seems unnecessary, but his book is constantly engrossing and often wry.

Pub Date: Jan. 20th, 1966
Publisher: Dutton