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4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  467 ratings  ·  65 reviews
Savages is a firsthand account, by turn hilarious, heartbreaking, and thrilling, of a small band of Amazonian warriors and their battle to preserve their way of life. Includes eight pages of photos.
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 27th 1996 by Vintage (first published 1995)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 718)
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I was a slap-happy travel writer looking forward to experiencing the most bio-diverse country on the plant for its size. Ecaudor is touted as a paradise for nature lovers with 46 different eco-systems, home to 1,600 bird species, 250 mammals, 358 amphibians 345 reptiles and 4,500 butterflies. Then I read Joe Kane’s horrifying expose of what has been taking place in the Amazon forests of Ecuador in a region called the Oriente since the 1970’s. Oil companies have systematically been destroying the ...more
Daniel Burton-Rose
I had this book out going through airport security in Guayaquil in 2003. One of the female security officers pointed at her colleague and laughed: "Savage!"
"No, no!" I interjected, "the petroleros are the 'savages'," but it didn't do any good, they ignored me.
Since I live in Ecuador, this book was especially gripping to me. I appreciate the author's willingness to engage deeply with (actually living with) the Huaorani he's reporting on. Those very actions, however, mean he presents a strongly biased report, verging into the romanticism of seeing most of the Huaorani as "noble savages". The truth is much more complex, and we do get glimpses of that now and then amongst the Huaorani; however, any foreigners are painted bleakly in black or white.

In the 90s, Ecuador was in such hopeless debt that the gov allowed oil companies to destroy pristine jungle and manipulate the "simple-minded natives" with impunity. Conservation groups protested, but few of them had relationships with the tribes deep in those jungles. Joe Kane is crazy enough to befriend the Huaorani -what we get is a rare look at how they live, how they think, and how difficult it is for illiterate hunter-gatherers who live in the moment to take on a cynical and seemingly invi ...more
Lauren Johnson
Jun 21, 2009 Lauren Johnson is currently reading it
A friend of mine recommended this as a must-read for anyone involved with indigenous rights activism. Savages is about the Huaorani people of Ecuador and how their communities have been devastated by oil companies. It's written in the first person by a journalist-turned-environmental activist, and is very easy to read. I'm hooked so far.
insight to the one existing native tribe living in the amazon (Ecuador region) and how the oil industry and drilling has effected their lives. Rowling is a great author
Reading this book kinda made me want to burn down every gas station I saw.
Another book about a clash between oil development and people who live over it. This was particularly good in the authors portrayal of the Huaorani people of Ecuador as competent and complete, without a patriarchal view. His assessment of the damage done by almost every group involved is well supported in terms of evidence of health and sustainability standards is clear and leaves me to wonder as always how anyone gets away with treating people, governments and even the earth in this way. I felt ...more
I'm finally just going to say I finished this. I'm about 10 pages from the end and haven't picked it up in weeks. The bureaucratic elements lost me. It was the encounters with the Huaorani that kept me reading. Having already known the gist of the horrific oil endeavors in South America, still I learned a little more of the gritty details. For example, the streets in the larger cities are literally wet with shiny oil that covers everyone's feet, vehicles, clothing, and yet the CEOs and president ...more
You might have recently heard recently of that an Ecuador court ordered Chevron Co. pay an $8.6 billion fine for polluting the Amazon for Texaco’s oil-drilling activities of the 70s and 80s.

In 1991, Joe Kane was working at a Rainforest Action Network, one of many environmental organizations squabbling over the expansion of oil drilling by Dupont-Conoco within the protected lands of native Huaorani in the Ecuadorian Amazon. But despite the Ecuadorian government and all these organizations claimin
The true story about the Huaorani living in the jungle heart of Ecuador and their fight to maintain their way of life despite "the company" (oil companies, government, politics) coming in to destroy the finest for $.

Writes like fiction almost, so great to get through while simultaneously learning the facts and depressing realities. Great look into the two extremes of humanity - jungle indigenous 'uncivilized' people and big oil CEO 'heartless' people in the context of a poor resource rich, debt
Wow, what a great read. It is incredible to me that of all the people who are blamed for the deforestation of the rain forest (colonists, indigenous groups, agricultural workers), you never hear about one of the worst offenders–big oil companies. The descriptions of the oil spills that occurred in the middle of what used to be primary virgin rain forest was heart-breaking. The author was a journalist who became acquainted with a group of amazonian people, the Huaroni. He described their way of l ...more
"Savages" is the personal account of the author and his relationship with Huaorani Indians in Ecuador, who are collectively and generally besieged by oil companies encroaching on their traditional land and way of life. This is a good but not great book; it may be the author or it may be the subject matter, but there's too much -- about the Huaorani themselves and the inter-tribal politics of the rainforest -- that is hinted at without being fully explained, perhaps because for an outsider it is ...more
I highly recommend this compulsively readable and manically engaging true tale of Amazonian "Indians"--the Huaorani--at war with oil companies deep in the jungle. The Huaorani had lived isolated and content with their traditional way of life for so long that their language cannot be connected to any other language known to humankind. Basically, if anybody tried to encroach upon them, they would simply tell them to leave and if they didn't, the Huaorani would kill them. Stoic to godlike degrees, ...more
This one was a tough one to rate. I felt it deserved at least a four for drawing attention to and describing a pretty shocking situation in Amazonian Ecuador that is virtually unheard of outside the region. It was surprisingly interesting and very entertaining for the most part, but it just felt like it kind of dragged a little bit in a few parts. On the other hand, maybe it just seemed that way because I was sick for a few days while reading it.
I have to admit that I've never really been inv
Maiga Milbourne
I was nervous about this book because the title seemed racist. However, the title is purposeful & aptly used. The author discusses his choice & also allows the reader to reconsider who is (or isn't) "savage."

Anyone traveling in the Ecuadorian jungle, or concerned about the rainforest & its inhabitants, should read this book. I had such a better understanding of Ecuador's history, US involvement, & the role of multinational companies after reading this book. The author also offers
Jeannie Long
Dear Joe,

Just finished reading your book, Savages. What a fascinating view of humanity, both good and evil. Couldn't believe it was true at times, kept thinking I was reading fiction. Horrifying accounts of the damage done to the lands of the natives. Your thorough research provided a shocking view of politics between government, oil companies, and even non-profit organizations.

What I really wanted to tell you was how I loved the last few sentences of your Acknowledgments section, regarding your
Powerful and moving book. Doesn't seem to take sides by the end, but allows the reader to just kind of float around in the moral ambiguity that is reality for so many indigenous people and the countries in which they reside.
I read this just after leaving the Amazon in Ecuador. It struck home for me. Joe Kane meets and lives with the Huaroni Indians in the jungle, an elusive and historically aggressive tribe that has been fighting oil exploitation for years. He reports on their struggle, helps when he can, and becomes good friends with them.

The Huaroni are a beautiful Buddhist-esk culture, embracing of their on hypocrisy as well as thriving in the moment - essential to the transitory nature of living in the Amazon.
Sep 14, 2009 Erin added it
The next time you think YOU'RE paying a lot for gas, read Savages. The book's principle unwritten question is, of course, "Who are the real savages? The Huaorani Indians of the Amazon, who practice revenge killings now and then, and carry real big spears, or the first world interests that choose to wipe out an entire, sustainable ecosystem and way of life for oil?". All the intrigue of The Poisonwood Bible, but with real people this time, from the misguided missionaries to the "savages" of the A ...more
A white man travels to Ecuador to learn about the Hauorani (wow-RAHN-ee) Indians in the Ecuadorian Amazon, whose way of life is being threatened by oil companies. This glimpse of the Hauorani's culture and struggle against the oil interests is fascinating and riveting. My biggest complaint about the book is that it really needed (and lacked) an index to help keep straight all the names of people and places and all the Spanish and Hauorani terms. I'm also not really keen on the title, although I ...more
This was a story worth telling of how the Huaorani, "the bravest people in the Amazon", have dealt with the oil industry, governments, missionaries, and environmentalists who all claim to have their best interests at heart..the author writes a beautiful narrative and gives the reader a glimpse of life in the Oriente.
Wiley R
Not perfect, but excellent info and a good read. Author was relatively respectful.
Just reread this 12-year-old book about development and exploitation in the rainforest. The first time I read it, I thought it was about the Huaorani people, but now with age and perspective I think it's more about colonialization and resource extraction.

I liked thinking about the different ways to experience time, as the two clashing cultures in the book demonstrate. For some people there is now, and the time that is not right now. Could I ever lose my sense of time like this? Can anyone leave
I am more of a fiction reader and did not expect to like this book as much as I did. If James Herriott's "All Creatures Great and Small" books made me want to become a veterinarian when I was younger, this book certainly glorified activism for the Huaorani tribe in Ecuador against petroleum for me, and made living in the forest and learning their ways look amazing.
Joe Kane is a gifted writer. He brought the people, their life, and their struggle to life for me.
Anna Mae
I really loved reading this book. I picked up at the home of my host family in Ecuador and was in the middle of it when I took a trip deep in to the Amazon Rain Forest. I was reading descriptions of the Ecuadorian Amazon while actually sleeping in a cabin there. Very powerful. For anyone interested in indigenous rights and their connection to (and conflict with) environmentalism, resource development, missionaries, journalists and politicians this is a great read.
Monena Hall
Amazing. I will be reading much more about the issues surrounding this group and the environmental impact oil production had particularly during the 90's. I only hope that we are smarter than we were then. We shall see.
This a bitter-sweet real story of a clash between traditional tribal life and gross money grabbing in the oil industry. It is hilarious yet extremely tragic. The characters are portrayed with a great insight. It prompts rethinking one's outlooks on what is truly important in life. Endearing. Will def. read more from this author in the future.
This is such a fun book about the Huaroni tribe, living a subsistence lifestyle in the rainforest of Ecuador, as well as the broader forces of global capitalism and hydrocarbon development at play. The Huaroni are remarkable in their self reliance and great humor - I want to visit them! Really fun, well-written book.
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