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The thief at the end of the world : rubber, power, and the seeds of empire

Author: Joe Jackson
Publisher: New York : Viking, 2008.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
"At the height of the Victorian era, Henry Wickham - a man with no formal education, little funding, and limited experience - went adventuring in the darkest jungles of Venezuela and Brazil. He had learned of a particular kind of rubber tree that produced the strong and durable rubber that scientists and entrepreneurs in England craved. After repeated brushes with death, disease, and madness that awaited the unwary  Read more...
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Details

Genre/Form: History
Material Type: Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Joe Jackson
ISBN: 9780670018536 0670018538
OCLC Number: 141482653
Description: 414 pages, [8] pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
Contents: Prologue : Henry's dream --
The need --
The fortunate son --
Nature belongs to man --
The new world --
The mortal river --
Instruments of the elastic god --
The source --
The return of the planter --
The jungle --
The seeds --
The voyage of the Amazonas --
The world --
The edge of the world --
The talking cross --
Rubber madness --
The vindicated man --
Epilogue : the monument of need --
Appendices --
Glossary --
Bibliography --
Endnotes --
Acknowledgments.
Responsibility: by Joe Jackson.
More information:

Abstract:

"At the height of the Victorian era, Henry Wickham - a man with no formal education, little funding, and limited experience - went adventuring in the darkest jungles of Venezuela and Brazil. He had learned of a particular kind of rubber tree that produced the strong and durable rubber that scientists and entrepreneurs in England craved. After repeated brushes with death, disease, and madness that awaited the unwary in the Amazon valley, he emerged exhausted, ragged, and transformed, with 70,000 illegally obtained rubber tree seeds. It was the first case of massive biopiracy in the modern era, and it would change the world." "The Thief at the End of the World is the story of the use and misuse of nature in the quest for global dominance, and of how one ordinary man's obsessions drove him to extraordinary lengths. Wickham's seeds were transported successfully to London's famous Kew Gardens, and biologists there quickly shipped them off to colonial outposts throughout the far-flung British Empire. Within a few years, those seeds produced the trees that yielded the rubber used in everything from trains and airplanes to condoms and baby bottles. It is no exaggeration to say that rubber was the oil of its day - an incredibly valuable resource found in only a few remote places that powerful governments would go to great lengths to get their hands on." "Henry Wickham and his wife Violet were gradually shut out of the wealth and glory of the rubber boom by the very government they had hoped to serve, and they wandered further and further from the new world they had helped to create. Joe Jackson draws from their letters and journals and the innumerable records left behind to paint a vivid, fascinating portrait of the man known in Great Britain as "the father of the rubber trade" and in Brazil as the "Executioner of Amazonas."" "Ultimately, Wickham's tale is also the story of Victorian England's adventures in the Amazon with all the characteristics of the era: idealistic patriotism, ambitious colonialism, and a colossal greed rivaled only by fanatic industry."--Jacket.

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