Savages
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Savages

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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  425 ratings  ·  61 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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Single Word Titles
432nd out of 571 books — 46 voters
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Rainforests and Jungles of the World
25th out of 122 books — 3 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 656)
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Linda
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.
Beth
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.

Overal...more
Disa
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.
Yolanda
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
Todd
Reading this book kinda made me want to burn down every gas station I saw.
Nicky
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
Kaion
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...more
Taylor
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...more
Molly
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
Steve
"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
Joseph
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
Andy
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...more
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...more
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...more
April
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....more
Erin
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
Jessica
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
Patrick
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.
Joe
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...more
Jennifer
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.
Hana
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.
Cyndie
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.
Christine
Since this was written in the 1990s, I want to follow up on what has happened in this part of Ecuador. I had to put the book down for a break because I was disgusted with how people/corporations treat others- all in the name of progress. The inevitable happens and makes me sad that the underdog never wins. When will we learn?
Riley
One white dude's hilarious / heartbreaking account of the Huaorani people and their doomed struggle to keep oil development out of El Oriente (aka the Ecuadorian Amazon). Veers from jaded environmentalist screed to wild-eyed adventure journal, with the best bits revolving around one man in particular named Moi.
Hilary
An incredibly well-written portrait of some of the Huaorani people and their fight against "The Company" (aka Big Oil). This book is both horrifying and exhilirating, it picks you right up from your chair and drops you into the middle of the Amazon rainforest (the Oriente) from page one.
Jacob Hale
Fascinating journalistic account of the devastation of the Huaorani people of the Ecuadorian Amazon by the big oil interests. Would have been better with a more sophisticated analysis of the nature of the global economy. At times Kane's attitude towards the Huaorani read as condescending to me.
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