El Dorado in the Marshes: Gold, Slaves and Souls between the Andes and the Amazon
December 2009, Polity
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The last goal of these explorations was the land of the Mojos, a land located in the upper Amazon basin and which lies many months of the year submerged under water. It is a mysterious land and, as legend had it, inhabited by a people rich in gold and precious stones. Yet all the Spaniards found – as narrated in these compelling pages – was a limitless swamp, sparsely inhabited by a small number of people and so ill suited to usual system of productive forced labor. It was the Jesuits instead who established here a network of missions second in size and population only to that or Paraguay and so went in search of souls rather than gold.