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River of Darkness: Francisco Orellana's Legendary Voyage of Death and Discovery Down the Amazon

River of Darkness: Francisco Orellana's Legendary Voyage of Death and Discovery Down the Amazon


River of Darkness: Francisco Orellana's Legendary Voyage of Death and Discovery Down the Amazon

valutazioni:
4.5/5 (14 valutazioni)
Lunghezza:
9 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Dec 22, 2017
ISBN:
9781977370594
Formato:
Audiolibro

Descrizione

From the acclaimed author of Conquistador comes this thrilling account of one of history's greatest adventures of discovery. With cinematic immediacy and meticulous attention to historical detail, here is the true story of a legendary sixteenth-century explorer and his death-defying navigation of the Amazon—river of darkness, pathway to gold.

In 1541, the brutal conquistador Gonzalo Pizarro and his well-born lieutenant Francisco Orellana set off from Quito in search of La Canela, South America's rumored Land of Cinnamon, and the fabled El Dorado, "the golden man." Driving an enormous retinue of mercenaries, enslaved natives, horses, hunting dogs, and other animals across the Andes, they watched their proud expedition begin to disintegrate even before they descended into the nightmarish jungle, following the course of a powerful river. Soon hopelessly lost in the swampy labyrinth, their numbers diminishing daily through disease, starvation, and Indian attacks, Pizarro and Orellana made a fateful decision to separate. While Pizarro eventually returned home barefoot and in rags, Orellana and fifty-seven men, in a few fragile craft, continued downriver into the unknown reaches of the mighty Amazon, serenaded by native war drums and the eerie cries of exotic predators. Theirs would be the greater glory.

Editore:
Pubblicato:
Dec 22, 2017
ISBN:
9781977370594
Formato:
Audiolibro


Informazioni sull'autore

Buddy Levy is the author of Conquistador: Hernan Cortes, King Montezuma, and the Last Stand of the Aztecs (Bantam Dell, 2008); American Legend: The Real-Life Adventures of David Crockett (Putnam, 2005, Berkley Books, 2006); and Echoes On Rimrock: In Pursuit of the Chukar Partridge (Pruett, 1998). As a freelance journalist he has covered adventure sports and lifestyle around the world, including several Eco-Challenges and other adventure expeditions in Argentina, Borneo, Europe, Greenland, Morocco, and the Philippines. His magazine articles and essays have appeared in Backpacker, Big Sky Journal, Couloir, Discover, High Desert Journal, Poets & Writers, River Teeth, Ski, Trail Runner, Utne Reader, TV Guide, and VIA. He is clinical assistant professor of English at Washington State University, and lives in northern Idaho with his wife Camie, his children Logan and Hunter, and two black Labs.

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Recensioni dei lettori

  • (4/5)
    Levy brings people, places, and events vividly to life in this riveting tale of brutality, greed, adventure, and survival.
  • (4/5)
    Excellent reconstruction of one of the most fascinating voyages during the Age of Discovery. In fact, they did not set out to travel the length of the Amazon (a river yet named), but literally got swept away by it. They had no idea such a large river would go for 1000s of miles, assuming it must reach the ocean any moment - but on they went, month after month. It was one long hack and slash with the Indians their survival improbable to the extreme. The book starts out a little slow setting the background but once the river journey starts it's great stuff.
  • (4/5)
    Buddy Levy’s most recent two books have been histories focused on the Spanish conquest of the new world. With his latest release, “River of Darkness: Francisco Orellana's Legendary Voyage of Death and Discovery Down the Amazon,” he’s shown to be a master of taking complex historical events and creating consumable, interesting, reliable and accurate narratives. Levy's "Conquistador: Hernan Cortes, King Montezuma, and the Last Stand of the Aztec" was terrific. Cortes' conquest of the Aztecs is a complex story, and Levy's book synthesized the myriad of sources well and told an enlightening and engaging story. In "Rivers of Darkness", Levy journeys south of Cortes' New Spain (Mexico), hops around the Inca Empire and travels the length of the mighty Amazon River following the travails of conquistador and explorer Francisco Orellana. Orellana was actually a cousin to the Pizarro clan and, though a generation younger than Francisco Pizarro, established himself as a brave and loyal supporter of the Pizarro’s during their conquest of the Incas in Peru. After providing a small army of support during a particularly tricky stage of the Inca conquest, Orellana was rewarded with a large land holding outside of modern Quito which, at the time, was part of the northernmost reaches of the Inca/Pizarro Empire. Levy reviews key moments of Pizarro's foray into South America. Francisco Pizarro had been part of Cortes' conquest in Mexico, and he was Balboa's second-in-command when he discovered the Pacific Ocean. Adventure, glory and riches were ingrained on Francisco, as were the methods to achieve them. Taking a page from Cortes' book, Pizarro's entrance into Peru, and rapid conquest of the Incas, was aggressive and bold. Levy makes it clear that Orellana was cut from the same Extremaduran Spanish mold as his cousin (Extremadura was a poverty-stricken part of Spain that produced an inordinately large amount of conquistadors). He wanted glory and he wanted gold. Like all conquistadors in the New World, he had heard the whispers and rumors of the famed El Dorado. By the 1530's, the legend was burned into the consciousness of every Spaniard with an adventurous set of mind. Rumors spread wildly of a fabulously wealthy king in a fabulously wealthy land existing just over the horizon - whichever horizon one was facing, in most cases. The rumors were strong that El Dorado lay just on the eastern side of the Andes. One of Pizarro’s half-brothers, Gonzalo, the hardheaded, reactive and most violent of the clan (three Pizarro half brothers and another cousin were part of the Peruvian conquest), was pulling together an expedition to conquer new lands and find new riches. Orellana offered up supplies and troops and was rewarded by being named second-in-command to Gonzalo. Through the first horrible months of the journey, Gonzalo thoroughly played his role as conquering Pizarro - act first and ask questions later; lead with violence. Unsurprisingly, they didn't get far. Nobody knew how to hunt for food in the jungles and they only just barely knew how to survive, while making enemies of every tribe they encountered. After almost a year and barely out of sight of the mighty Andes, Gonzalo ordered Orellana to take some of his troops further into the jungle in the hopes of finding a village rumored to be friendly towards visitors and where they could find food and rest. Orellana descended the Napo River many miles and for several days without finding an appropriate place to stop en masse, and decided (at least according to his records and chroniclers) that it would be impossible to fight back up river and reconnect with Gonzalo's troops. Pizarro’s group circled around the jungle for another six months and eventually dragged back into Quito with only a fraction of his original Spanish troops, unrecognizable and barely alive. Their return home would be referred to as “the worst march ever in the Indies.” Orellana, however, continued on. Orella attempted to communicate with the native peoples with more than just sign language and violence. He had a gift for languages and he used that to his strength throughout his conquests. Orellana kept a diary of vocabulary during his early interactions with new tribes. Levy compares the style of the two cousins after Orellana's first encounter with a native village had been a peaceful one: "It is clear that his (Orellana) approach of using language and diplomacy before violence was effective...and a diametric departure from the techniques favored by his own captain, Gonzalo Pizarro, who no doubt would have already tortured and killed a good portion of the villagers." Levy points to Orellana's skill with oratory and communication and languages were a deciding factor in their early successes. Orellana's story is one of first contact...over and over and over again. Cortes' first meetings with polities and tribes across Mexico are well documented, and his first meeting with Montezuma is legend. Pizarro's first meeting with the Inca Atahaulpa is one of the most famous first contacts in world history. Orellana had first contact after first contact - all along the winding, rushing river that would ultimately be identified as the largest in the world. Some first meetings were civil and almost friendly. More than once did Orellana and his troops find welcoming arms, food and rest along their journey. Most first meetings, despite Orellana’s friendlier outlook, were violent and angry. Orellana took advantage of the enormous river highway by building two boats to ferry his troops through the jungle (an amazing feat considering their circumstances, resources and knowledge base). What eventually became known as the Amazon River was initially called the Maranon and several explorers had come across it in the early 1500s. Orellana would have known that a massive river shot from the Atlantic Ocean into the heart of the new world. Though he had no idea how far he would have to travel, Orellana, while seeking El Dorado, was aiming for the Atlantic. One of the more fascinating tales in Levy’s book is his overview of the legend of the Amazonian Women. Orellana’s troops documented a battle against a number of tall, pale skinned and pale haired women. It was a relatively brief encounter, but later Orellana learned more about these women warriors from a captive native. Levy provides more detail around the rumors and reports about these warrior women who supposedly lived in a female-only society, capturing male slaves only as needed to ensure the propagation of their kind. Modern researchers suggest that the plethora of native tales, in combination with reports from explorers lend credence to the fact that some type of female warrior tribe that was seen by Orellana’s crew. These women ultimately gave the world’s largest river its name. Orellana and his chroniclers also describe seeing “large cities glistening white as seashells” and large “roads made by hand”. They would certainly float past miles and miles of jungle, but then they would float for miles more where the shore was lined with homes, people and the clear signs of civilization. In the last two or three years, archaeologists have discovered evidence that, historically, the Amazon was far more populous than originally believed. Those scientists have found evidence of large interconnected thoroughfares that led from one population center to another. They’ve determined that natives found ways to make the nutrient poor Amazonian soil more fertile, creating what’s now called ‘terra preta’ or “Amazonian dark earth”. Orellana’s crew also pointed out this “dark earth” in their journals. It was clear early on in Orellana’s 8-month long adventure that his journey was becoming one of survival rather than conquest. He and his chroniclers, however, continued to observe and record what they saw. And after a time, Levy points out that they were "conquistadors no more." They were explorers and they were survivors. Months later, after being spit out of the Amazon into the ocean, Orellana’s two ships worked their way north until they cam across a small Spanish pearl fishing island. Levy writes: “Captain Francisco Orellana … completed one of the most remarkable, daring, and improbable journeys in the history of navigation and discovery. (His) achievement would later be called one of the world’s greatest explorations, ‘something more than a journey, and more like a miraculous event.’” 43 of his original 57-man expedition survived; the rest succumbed to disease, starvation, poisoning or death in battle. The book is richly detailed, includes copious notes, references and a robust bibliography. Even the black and white ebook version contains a well-reproduced series of drawings representative of the New World Spanish Conquest and the Amazon. The ebook’s version of Levy’s maps present terribly in the format I was using, however. This certainly would’ve helped track Orellana’s progress, specifically in regards to keeping up with the sheer number of tribes he ran into along his journey. I would encourage readers to review the “Notes on the Text and Sources” before starting the story, to gather perspective on Levy’s myriad of source material. While he includes some footnotes in each chapter, the detail of sources is presented as endnotes. It makes the reading easier, but one has to hunt a little bit if interested in the source material.