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SAVAGES by Joe Kane

SAVAGES

By Joe Kane

Pub Date: Sept. 13th, 1995
ISBN: 0-679-41191-7
Publisher: Knopf

 An eloquent and impassioned report from a hopeless battlefield where the war is between a nation of Amazonian Indians and the oil companies threatening to destroy it. In the offices of the Rainforest Action Network in 1991, Kane (Running the Amazon, 1989) happened to see a mysterious letter, ostensibly sent by the Huaorani, a remote nation of 1,300 warriors in the Ecuadoran Amazon. The letter was a plea for helpforeign oil interests were invading the Huaorani homeland, destroying hunting grounds, and contaminating the rivers, the soil, and the people. Kane moved to Ecuador to investigate and eventually to report the story for the New Yorker. What followed was a journey along tangled paths: into the heart of the Huaorani territory, into the trust of the people, into the offices of oil executives and bureaucrats whose goals never seem to include a viable place for the Huaorani. Although Kane was careful to maintain his position as an observer, his bias is clear in sensitive portraits of the Huao leaders and supporters he befriended. But this is no soft-focus idealization of life in the forest. Kane does not shy from the absurdities and frustrations of contact with the Huaorani, nor does he draw their enemies as cartoons. He has some of Bruce Chatwin's gift for documenting cultural oddities without batting an eye, and adds to that a narrative urgency that moves his writing from travelogue to adventure story. In the end he is both inspired by Huaorani culture and helplessly saddened as he watches its leadership falter. Kane has no easy answer; his mission is to bring this story out of the forest, to tell it, as one Huao leader asks, ``so the whole world will know.'' Savages is not a pious retelling of someone else's activism; Kane has been there, risked his life, and returned with true authority on the subject and the literary skill to make it live on the pages. (8 pages color photos, not seen) (First printing of 40,000)