Andrea's Reviews > The Thief at the End of the World: Rubber, Power, and the Seeds of Empire

The Thief at the End of the World by Joe Jackson
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Jun 01, 2017

it was amazing
bookshelves: world-history, 19th-century-british, 20th-century-british, south-america

At the end of the nineteenth century, Henry Wickham managed to smuggle a large number of rubber seeds from the Amazon to Kew Gardens, thus setting the stage for British domination of the rubber supply through their Asian colonies. As trains, cars and other modern inventions caused demand for rubber to skyrocket, fortunes were made by British planters and traders.
Wickham, however, was a ne'er do well, despite his incredible energy and determination. He drifted about the British colonies for most of his adult life, attempting to promote various crops including rubber, but never managing to get in on the financial bonanzas.
This is a well written narrative style history that focuses on Wickham's personal trials but draws in the history of plantation rubber, the world forces that influenced the markets, the human suffering that built the various industries we have come to believe are necessary for modern life. It took me a chapter or two but I did get totally caught up in the story.
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Reading Progress

April 15, 2009 – Shelved
April 22, 2009 – Shelved as: world-history
May 9, 2017 – Started Reading
June 1, 2017 – Shelved as: 19th-century-british
June 1, 2017 – Shelved as: 20th-century-british
June 1, 2017 – Shelved as: south-america
June 1, 2017 – Finished Reading

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