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The Unconquered: In Search of the Amazon's Last Uncontacted Tribes

3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  975 Ratings  ·  136 Reviews

Even today there remain tribes in the far reaches of the Amazon rainforest that have avoided contact with modern civilization. Deliberately hiding from the outside world, they are the unconquered, the last
Paperback, 512 pages
Published July 24th 2012 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2011)
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Jen Hirt
I bought this as an ebook after 1. seeing the author on "The Daily Show" and 2. hearing him on NPR and 3. watching a nature documentary where some explorers flew over uncontacted tribes in the Amazon. Media saturation did its job on me. That said, this book is pretty much what one should expect from mainstream narrative nonfiction; it is a chronological, adventure-by-adventure account that is informative and educational and really interesting, but the descriptions are at times cliched, redundant ...more
This book is going straight to my favourites shelf. It will sit there in the company of other gems such as Arabian Sands by Wilfred Thesiger and The Road Gets Better From Here by Adrian Scott. Books that capture the people, the culture, the food, the environment, 'the message' in a way that few books do.

The Unconquered was hard to put down and by the end I didn't want it to finish. In fact, I could have started it all over again. It is books like those than will forever have a treasured place i
nonfiction, 3.5 out of 5 stars

Child-killing anacondas, ants that have pincers so strong they are used as a substitute for stitches in wounds, jaguars wanting a tasty snack, vampire bats – are these going to be smaller dangers than the Arrow People?

I'm sorry to say that I would never have had the courage to attempt the expedition that National Geographic author Scott Wallace undertook when he joined Sydney Possuelo's attempt to find and protect, but not meet, “the last uncontacted tribes” of the
Tracy Shapley
I received The Unconquered courtesy of the Goodreads First Reads program, and I will admit that I was immediately biased against it. The purpose of the expedition on which Scott Wallace tagged along is to locate 'lost savages'. Supposedly not to contact them, but as early as the Prologue, Mr. Wallace admits his real desires:
"Any direct contact with the Arrow People could be disastrous. The tribe had no immunity to the germs we carried. We were not doctors and carried few medications . . .Ye
A fascinating topic: tribes in the Amazon living without contact with the modern world. But far too concerned with petty personality issues, and too fullof poetic description. What should have been an adventure story about the Amazon, the tribes, and the challenges they face, turns into a narrow description of an expedition that ultimately has little impact on the greater issues.Edit out a hundred pages and this is a better book.
Unbearably boring memoir of a trek through the Amazon, written by a self-absorbed, privileged brat suffering from delusions of grandeur. I was expecting The Unconquered to offer at least some insight into uncontacted native tribes, the history of the region/forest, ecology, or really, ANYTHING at all. Ok, so there was a little info on the different groups and Brazil's efforts to maintain a protected area, but the learning opportunities were few and far between.

Not only that, but this wasn't eve
Fiona Ingram
Jan 12, 2014 Fiona Ingram rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Unconquered by Scott Wallace is his account of an expedition into the deepest recesses of the Amazon, on assignment for National Geographic, to confirm the existence of ‘The Arrow People’ (or ‘les flecheiros’) so that their territory may be preserved and protected. Wallace joins Sydney Possuelo; a larger-than-life figure in the history of Brazil’s endangered indigenous people, and a man who has devoted his life to saving and protecting the last of the uncontacted tribes.

‘Uncontacted’ is a bi
Jul 17, 2013 Clint rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
This is one of those non-fiction books that is so badass and teaches you so many badass things you never knew you wanted to know that you talk about it continuously the entire time you're reading it to anyone around you that will listen. "Dude, check this out, these dudes are fucking hunting and eating monkeys, and one of the dudes keeps thinking it's kind of like cannibalism and has nightmares where monkeys attack him with knives for revenge." "Dude, these dudes made a giant-ass canoe out of a ...more
Clif  Wiens
Oct 13, 2011 Clif Wiens rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A journey into the unknown, dangers in a forbidden jungle, and a larger-than-life hero – the stuff of fiction, only Scott Wallace’s unforgettable, “The Unconquered” is a true adventure, with the narrative drive of a great novel but also an acute moral sensibility encompassing the complexities of our world on personal, social, and global level. Wallace’s story is that of a journey to protect an uncontacted tribe in the northwest reaches of Brazil, led by Sidney Possuelo, a larger than life Mr. Ku ...more
Jake Wavra
Only 5 percent of the book actually talked about the indigenous Indian tribe they were seeking to observe. Another 5 percent went towards stuff we already now about the destruction of natural wilderness. The final 90 percent was a personal blog about running around out in the Amazon forest. Overall, somewhat disappointing.
Mar 14, 2012 Apala rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is about an expedition into the Amazon jungle to chart the territory of an yet-uncontacted Amazonian tribe. I really liked it for the subject matter because I love reading travel stories. Amazon, of course, has a special place in my imagination. I liked it even more for the author's style of writing. His style is very down-to-earth and un-judgmental. He does not idolize environmentalists/indigenous tribes, nor does he condemn anyone. He sticks to the facts, which makes it a really good ...more
May 20, 2012 Nicole rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story Wallace tells is fascinating, and his journey through the rivers and rainforests of the Amazon is amazing and at times surreal. But this book needed a better editor-- Wallace is frequently and painfully repetitive, reiterating the same points about Indian land conservation and his own personal family worries again and again. This very long book should have been much shorter and more concise. Wallace also chooses to focus on some odd things and skim over others. I would have liked to kn ...more
Stan Caldwell
Oct 14, 2012 Stan Caldwell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This is an outstanding book!! The author through his writing was able to take me on an expedition that included hardship, adventure, pathos, and danger only found in the Amazon. I felt the heat of the Amazon, the sting of the insects, and the privation that the author endured during his trek. The "Unconquered" also outlines the life's work and internal fire of Sydney Posseulo driven to protect the indigenous people from many advancing forces threatening their existence. Sydney Posseulo is the ti
Dec 27, 2011 Keith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE !!
Recommended to Keith by: BookPassage store
LOVED Scott's account of his dark dense jungle trip: Hard to believe there are still folk today that have had no modern gringo contact...! Wallace takes us to the edge of 'the unconquered' world via true life quixotic adventurer Sydney Passueolo...With them both, and a bevy of indigenous tribes people, we travel for eight weeks into dank inner Amazonian depths learning fabulous history, culture, geography and various biting bug info along the way...!

Scott Wallace is a terrific story teller: here
Aug 24, 2015 John rated it it was amazing
Scott Wallace enters a crowded field with his book about exploring the Amazon, but undoubtedly this is one of the best from the last few years. It is part travel book and part history of various uncontacted tribes, which converge in the search for (while attempting not to actually have contact with) the obscure 'arrow people' whose isolation is threatened by loggers, gold miners and even unwitting contacts by other tribes. Wallace brilliantly conveys the hardship of the months-long journey, whil ...more
David Flaugher
Feb 15, 2015 David Flaugher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some works nourish the reader and some entertain. This book can change you in a way that can forever alter your interpretation of others. Maybe there is a rearrangement of synapse that becomes permanent that allows connections to be made that did not exist before. Before, is key in this book.

There is just too much to cover in a brief review, so a hearty endorsement is forthcoming. However expect examination both internal and external, of societal norms, history, religion, technology and the self
Lisa Eirene
Jan 28, 2015 Lisa Eirene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love adventure stories. The Indiana Jones movies were my favorites as a kid. I've read some books by and about explorers--historical accounts and more "modern" stories. Somehow they usually fall short for me. This book did not. It was a long book and it took me a long time to read (for me) and there were definitely parts of the book that could have been edited down to move quicker...but the story was told in an interesting way.

The author was a National Geographic writer who go the opportunity
Jan 13, 2012 Kurt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One way to remain unconquered is to make sure that you never lose a battle - though that is technically undefeated. If you lose the odd battle but still win the war, you're still unconquered (c.f. Super Bowl repeat-hopefuls, the Green Bay Packers). Another way is to refuse to engage the fight at all - at least, not on a scale that is live-or-die.

In 2003, author Scott Wallace traveled for roughly three months on an expedition led by Brazilian Sydney Possuelo - government worker by paycheck, chari
Anna Fierce
Aug 02, 2012 Anna Fierce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Check out my blog for more extensive reviews and more!

PROS: I am still in awe of this book. This may be one of the best books I've ever read. I was a little concerned going in because as much as my Western curiosity wants to read about the "wild" Indians (and in this book they are referred to as Indians, not "Native Brazilians" or anything, so I will use that here), I know that contacting them, no matter how pure-intentioned the gesture may be, will almost certainly prove detrimental to their ph
Nov 04, 2011 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a real page-turner; an adventure that is riveting, brutal, and life-changing. It is the story of an egomaniacal Brazilian named Sidney Possuelo, who is on a crusade to protect the last independent peoples of the the earth: the wild Indian tribes who inhabit the deepest most impenetrable parts of the Amazon rain forest. Reading this book raises many philosophical questions regarding the heirachy of humanity in our world today and whether our high tech fast-paced modern lifestyle is t ...more
Julie McSorley
Jan 03, 2016 Julie McSorley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This true account of a trek into the Amazon wilderness in search of previously un-contacted tribes needs to be critiqued within the genre of other biographical first person accounts. With that in mind, Scott Wallace's intriguing book thoroughly deserves the praise it has had thus far. If you're looking for an easy entertaining read, this probably isn't the one. The first hand descriptions are heavy on background facts, a necessary part of understanding the historical and political context of the ...more
Dec 25, 2013 Neill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author joins an expedition deep into the Amazon in search of an uncontacted tribe of "wild Indians." The ultimate goal, under the auspices of the Brazilian government, is to protect them and their land while avoiding contact. This book provokes thought about the best way to deal with isolated tribes who have maintained the same way of life for thousands of years but who are now under siege by various economic and development interests, lawful and unlawful. It is not only a fast-paced, intere ...more
Laura Bostick
Dec 23, 2011 Laura Bostick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Scott Wallace's "The Unconquered" is excellent. I generally try to steer away from reading that might make me smarter, but Scott somehow managed to sneak a wealth of information on a topic I knew nothing about (uncontacted tribes in the Amazon) into an emotional, real-life action adventure that left me both sad that I've never had such opportunities to explore the world, and thankful that someone else has and that he has the talent to bring it all back to me in words and pictures. Read it. You w ...more
Jim Godemann
Nov 07, 2011 Jim Godemann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you're looking to give a book as a gift, or for your own enjoyment, grab my friend Scott Wallace's "The Unconquered," just published last month. This work of nonfiction is as riveting as a fast-paced, heart-pounding action novel, with a good dose of history, culture, environment and insight into human interactions under extreme conditions, in a place where the slightest relaxation of vigilance, or bad luck, can get you killed. I'm not just praising this book because Scott's my friend. This re ...more
Ryan G
May 05, 2014 Ryan G rated it liked it
As a kid, the idea of the Amazon River fascinated me. I would fantasize about swimming in the water, trekking through the jungle, and playing with the jaguars and monkeys. Let's just say I had an overly romanticized notion of what the Amazon River was all about. As a recently turned 36 year old, part of me still has an unrealistic idea of what the Amazon River is and what it means to those who call it's many tributaries home. So when I have the opportunity to read a book, fiction or nonfiction, ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
It’s all here in this book. Anacondas. Alligators. Poisonous plants. Stinging insects. Heat. Rain. And, best of all, a tribe of natives known only for their skill at shooting to kill with poison arrows and their ability to disappear into the rainforest.

Scott Wallace stepped out of modern life for a few months and headed off into the deepest, darkest parts of the Amazon rainforest with a half-mad guide, in search of the mysterious flecheiros, “People of the Arrow.”

Give this book a read. Fantastic
Aug 22, 2014 Jill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book to read after I heard the author interviewed on NPR. I don't know if I would have been attracted to the subject matter if I hadn't visited the Amazon myself in 2001 and have an interest in environmental issues. It is well written but difficult to keep track of all the people Scott Wallace encountered on his trek. I wish he would have been more descriptive of the flora and fauna of the jungle rather than the anthropology of the indigenous tribes but I guess I should have read a ...more
One of the best narrative nonfiction books I've read in a long time (and it fed my unquenchable Amazon obsession) The author travels on a FUNAI expedition to locate (but not to contact) indios bravos (wild Indians) in the Javari Indigenous zone deep in Brazil's Amazon region. It's an extraordinary adventure story, history lesson, and thought provoking discourse on what it means to protect indigenous cultures.
T. Carter Ross
Interesting, but ultimately unfulfilling. In many ways, the author comes across as unlikable. The situation he's in is amazing and he does covey a bit of the otherworldliness, but it often seems a bit meh. Maybe, when reduced by hunger and fatigue, the actual experience takes on that almost bland quality, but the book left me wanting something more.
Barbara Taylor
Aug 17, 2013 Barbara Taylor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really interesting about a journalist who goes into the heart of the Amazon with a Brazilian governmental official trying to protect tribes from outside influences. Makes you think about the pros and cons of bringing modern culture to stone age folk. Reads like an adventure novel. Hard to put down!
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Scott Wallace is a writer, photographer, and broadcast journalist whose career covering national and international affairs spans the past three decades. He gained an early reputation for gutsy reporting from the battlefronts and barricades of El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Panama in the 1980s, where he filed for CBS News Radio and a succession of
More about Scott Wallace...

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“For all the illusions of freedom our society promotes, rarely do we have the chance to step outside it long enough to gain some distance. Beyond the fatuous talk about liberty and the price our founders paid for it, I wondered: How free were we if we’d become so dependent on the comforts produced by industry that we couldn’t do without them?” 0 likes
“One-quarter of all prescription drugs have their origins in tropical rainforests, owing in large measure to the elaborate defenses their plants and animals (most notably frogs) have evolved to ward off a multitude of would-be predators.” 0 likes
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