In this fluid account, Levy narrates the story of the conquistadors who become the first Europeans to navigate the length of the Amazon River. After plundering the Inca empire, Gonzalo Pizarro and Francisco Orellana set out from Quito with an expedition of soldiers and Indian slaves in search of El Dorado. The two explorers became separated and the expedition quickly became lost in the jungle, then decimated by disease, starvation, and native attacks. Desperate, Orellana and the remaining conquistadors built a large boat and sailed downriver. Realizing that he would be unable to wait for Pizarro, Orellana set his sights on the Atlantic Ocean thousands of miles away. Levy does a fine job of organizing an enormous amount of historical material and balancing the accounts of Orellana and Pizarro after they separated. As one conflict follows another in rapid succession, they tend to blur into each other, though Levy provides enough descriptive detail and pacing to differentiate between the various native groups and aspects of the river. He also addresses the new archeological research that is changing our understanding of the cultures of the pre-Columbian Amazon Basin. (Mar.)
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Praise for River of Darkness:
"River of Darkness immediately takes its place as the definitive book on one of the great voyages into the unknown of all time, Orellana's accidental first descent of the Amazon. Not only is it a solid contribution to the scholarly literature on Amazonia, but it is a riveting and irresistible read, narrative history of a literary quality rarely encountered that compares with Alan Moorehead's great books on the Nile. Bravissimo !" -- Alex Shoumatoff, contributing editor, Vanity Fair; publisher DispatchesFromTheVanishingworld.com,
and author of In Southern Light, The Rivers Amazon, and The World is Burning
“In River of Darkness, Buddy Levy proves that the scariest stories are the true ones. Filled with fascinating details and the terror that comes with exploring something for the very first time, this is history coming back to life.”
- Brad Meltzer, Bestselling author of The Book of Fate and The Inner Circle
“Buddy Levy is one of those rare and gifted authors whose books are virtual time machines that effortlessly transport us back through centuries. In River of Darkness, we participate in one of history’s signal explorations, Francisco Orellana’s descent of the Amazon River. We see blood, smell smoke, hear screams of joy and agony. Levy’s impeccably researched book is at once harrowing adventure and revealing history. Better than any in recent memory, River of Darkness sheds new light—and reveals the darkest aspects—of the Conquistadors’ brave and bloody New World forays.”
-James M. Tabor, Author of Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth.
This is a fascinating story of a little-known first European exploration of the Amazon River. The courage of these men was remarkable.Published 23 days ago by Palm Beach Panther
Well written, fast moving and historically interesting. I passed this book on to a Brazilian friend of mine who was amazed with the history of this part of his country he didn't... Read morePublished 1 month ago by William Thomsen
The guy writes like a high school kid doing a book review. After two chapters I put it aside.Published 3 months ago by JOE EATON
Great book. Buddy levy is my new favorite author. Conquistador the first book was amazing and this one is unbelievable.Published 4 months ago by JMP