The Thief at the End of the World: Rubber, Power, and the Seeds of Empire

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Penguin, 2008 - 414 páginas
The story of one man’s journey down the Amazon—and how it changed history

In 1876, a man named Henry Wickham smuggled seventy thousand rubber tree seeds out of the rainforests of Brazil and delivered them to Victorian England’s most prestigious scientists at Kew Gardens. Those seeds, planted around the world in England’s colonial outposts, gave rise to the great rubber boom of the early twentieth century—an explosion of entrepreneurial and scientific industry that would change the world. The story of how Wickham got his hands on those seeds—a sought-after prize for which many suffered and died—is the stuff of legend. In this utterly engaging account of obsession, greed, bravery, and betrayal, author and journalist Joe Jackson brings to life a classic Victorian fortune hunter and the empire that fueled, then abandoned, him.

In his single-minded pursuit of glory, Wickham faced deadly insects, poisonous snakes, horrific illnesses, and, ultimately, the neglect and contempt of the very government he wished to serve. His idealism and determination, as well as his outright thievery, perfectly encapsulate the essential nature of Great Britain’s colonial adventure in South America. The Thief at the End of the Worldis a thrilling true story of reckless courage and ambition.
 

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LibraryThing Review

Crítica de los usuarios  - dandelionroots - LibraryThing

This is my type of book: expansive subject matter - rubber's economic boom (-ish 1880-1915); crazy adventurer to structure the information around; interesting tangents galore; and an ethical conundrum ... Leer comentario completo

LibraryThing Review

Crítica de los usuarios  - Katong - LibraryThing

A bit uneven, with the author trying too hard in place, but still a very interesting read. Didn't realize how long was the gap between Markham's transport of the hevea seedlings to Asia and the adoption of hevea as a plantation crop. Looks like Ridley is more the key to that transition. Leer comentario completo

Contenido

Henrys Dream I
1
THE NEED
17
The Fortunate Son
27
Nature Belongs to Man
34
The New World
53
The Mortal River
75
Instruments of the Elastic God Іоо
100
THE SOURCE
117
The Voyage of the Amazonas
173
THE WORLD
195
The Edge of the World
197
The Talking Cross
217
The Monument of Need
291
World Rubber Production 19051922
305
Notes
313
Bibliography
363

The Return of the Planter
119
The Jungle
136
The Seeds
153
Acknowledgments
391
Index
397
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Acerca del autor (2008)

Joe Jackson is the author of one novel and four nonfiction titles, including Leavenworth Train, which was a finalist for the 2002 Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime. He worked for twelve years as an investigative reporter for the Virginian-Pilot, covering criminal justice and death row.

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