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Smithsonian Atlas of the Amazon

Smithsonian Atlas of the Amazon
Michael Goulding, Ronaldo Barhtem, and Efrem Ferreira
Smithsonian Institution Press
Publication Date: 

cloth, 253 p., $39.95

As might be expected, the Smithsonian Atlas of the Amazon is truly an amazing work, filled with color maps, informative and beautiful photographs, and many facts pertinent to this mighty river system, almost the size of the continental United States. In the course of this book, we follow the Amazon from the Andes, examine its many important tributaries, and trace all of these rivers in their path to the Atlantic.

This, the world’s longest river; the land and people that surround this system; and their effects on each other as a living force and commercial highway are explored with charts, photographs, and historical and geological facts. Tremendous research and organization has resulted in a reader-friendly account of the impact of human history, commercial development and natural forces upon the Amazonian river basin in South America. Cattle ranching, gold mining, farming and urbanization, and dams have all changed the face and finances of this region.

Separate chapters examine the most important tributaries of the Amazon, such as the Negro and the Trombetas, as well as the Tocantins and others. Each of these rivers has its own impact on the Amazon. Other chapters look at regions in the Amazon, such as the Purus and Ucayali valleys, and discuss their impact on life in the Amazon Basin.

This atlas is a unique presentation on this region, looking beyond political borders to examine an international natural phenomenon. An important work, this book should find its way into the hands of anyone interested in the ecology and history of this special place in the world.

— Elaine Juhl, master gardener and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden