(Original Review, 1993-05-31)
It gives me a lot of pleasure to mention Richard Gott's work "Land Without Evil - Utopian Journey Across the South American Watershed."
Whilst I did not intend to get mixed up with the Watershed on account of its complexity, his endeavor to go up the Amazon all the way to (probably) the Pacific, in the 1970s, was almost as much of an adventure then as it was for the 16th C conquistadores.
My preferred sea lane would certainly have been across the Panama isthmus and down the Pacific coast. Dealing with half a dozen tribes or nations, was surely much easier than with half a dozen 1000s of highly bred/inbred tribes, the latter being the case going up the Amazon as a traffic lane; far too many traffic islands! I have been distracted from my purpose, which is really the remaining tribes, and one indigenous 'nation' of Argentina, but it has been very instructive indeed, about how to write/research a geographical history. Answer? Go for the churches every time! Go for the personalities of those churches, and without allowing you to guess, that they were Jesuits, in vast numbers, as well as Spanish government appointed administrators.
Had the Jesuits prevailed beyond the 18th C, revolutionaries of an entirely different ilk, might well have had little internationalism (i.e., the subcontinent's political unity) to think about. As it is, the small world we live in, provides excellent resources to create international organisation, to represent all south American nations in the big wide world. Those nation states..... Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and so on, were founded by partnership, with the already warring tribal 'nations', frequently by servitude and slavery.
I do know the history of the foundation of the nation of my own nation, Portugal, well enough, to be able to ascertain whether the spoils of empire caused the divisions of the Iberian peninsula; or maybe Brazil became definitively Portuguese on account of the conflicts in Spain and Portugal. Bit of both truth be told! The date of the Jesuit removal from South America was justified and caused by the kings and queens and history of Western Europe. Quite what Pinochet wanted to thank Mrs. Thatcher for, sitting in a Cafe in Picadilly, heaven only knows. Had he gone a few metres up street to the Ritz, he might well have been greeted by Dennis, who made that his regular haunt for many years. Perhaps he forgot the table gratuity required by tradition, at the door, or perhaps Mr. Corbyn was the door porter that day and determined to set up an extradition proceeding against President P.