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19th September 2017
Title: The River that God Forgot: The Story of the Amazon Rubber Boom
Author: Collier, R.
Price: £18.00
Publisher: Collins
Date Published: 1968
Specifications: HC., 320pp., 6" x 8.5", 525g.
Condition: Good in dust jacket.
Copies in stock: 2
Category: Agricultural Produce More books in this category
Book type: Investment History
Hindsight ID: 1013
The River that God Forgot: The Story of the Amazon Rubber Boom

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Notes: Toward the end of the nineteenth century, with the industrial revolution apace, a new generation of engines and moving stock, the advent of motor vehicles and the rubber tyre conspired to produce an excess of demand for that scarce gum. In a vain attempt to satisfy the market a basic and often cruel system of production spread through the Amazon forests. Soaring prices bred new fortunes and euphoric expectations, while the spectacular anomaly of the “White City” of Manaus emerged on the banks of an Amazon tributary 1,000 miles from the Atlantic. It was unreachable by land or rail and otherwise beyond the frontiers of civilisation. This city became synonymous with extravagant displays of wealth as dubious “colonels” entertained with the most luxurious frivolities that Europe could supply, and at the peak of the boom it drew hopeful rubber barons and tropical tramps at the rate of 5,000 a week. Back in London during a 5-month period in 1909, seventy-nine rubber companies were launched on the exchange. Typical of such booms these phantoms left little to posterity. Such was the clamour though, that at one point the head of the stock exchange suggested closing the market for a week. But the superlatives of Manaus with its ornate opera house and tramway system were matched in degree by the harshness with which the rubber barons’ empires were ruled. The most famous, Don Julio Arana sought legitamcy and capital with the floatation of his Peruvian Amazon Rubber Company in London, but his slavish fiefdom on the Putamayo, apparently beyond the remit of law, was incompatible with the standards of British society where it led to a parliamentary enquiry. Ultimately his ambitions and the glory of Brazilian Manaus were undone by the orderly plantations of Malaya which in turn bequeathed the inheritance to that prospering nation of today, while the rubber boom that once entranced London has faded into history.

Keys: Amazon, Rubber, Boom and Bust, Manaus, Brazil, Commodity, Arana, Peruvian Amazon Rubber Company, Putamayo, South America


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