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Anti-Americanism runs high in Brazil. But apart form the common complaints about the almighty Uncle Sam they have another preoccupation. They are convinced that the Americans want to take over the Amazon. Willard Price fuels the Brazilians fear by declaring that the minerals of the Amazon are essential to win the cold war that is already heating up in 1952 when The Amazing Amazon was written. His belief that a jungle so luscious can easily be turned into the worlds food factory has since been proved wrong and although some parts of Brazil have developed quickly since the 1950?s this is not true for the Amazon. Yet the region still hasn?t lost its appeal as the source of future richness and therefore strategic importance. Its biodiversity will surely hold the key to many uncurable diseases, it is the worlds green lung and as the worlds greatest wilderness it still has an exotic and romantic ring to its name.
In his introduction the American writer couples the usual impressive facts about the Amazon with his evaluation of the Amazons future importance. In the rest of his book the Amazon is nothing more than the perfect backdrop for the stories of adventure, hardship and courage the writes of adventure books for children likes to tell. Piranhas, anacondas, Indians and of course insects are all sources of some spectacular stories. To do Price justice his admiration of the Indians has to be stressed. They have adapted perfectly to the rainforest and are extremely helpful and friendly towards strangers.
Price only leaves the forest and its excitement for a discussion of race relations in Brazil. He accepts Gilberto Freyre?s theory of racial democracy without questioning. Here, nobody white, nobody black, all Brazilian as a Rio newsboy expressed it. For somebody from the still firmly segregated United States this must have come as a shock. Since then segregation has ended in the US, and a developing black middle class does its best to break down the still existing psychological barriers. At the same time the situation in Brazil hasn?t hardly changed, and even compares unfavourably with Price?s overly positive description of the 1950?s.
It are exactly these more general chapters that are the most interesting for the present day reader. Because they not only show how Brazil was, but also how the world around it has changed. The rest of the book offers more of the same stories that are familiar to anybody who has read one of the many accounts of Amazonian expeditions.