chris feliciano arnold

The Third Bank of the River: Life and Death in the 21st-Century Amazon

An Amazon Best Book of the Month (History)

“Arnold has crafted a thrilling page-turner while delving into topics that often bypass Brazil’s mainstream media…The Third Bank of the River ultimately stands out as an important book for Americans looking to better understand the glorious and troubled nation to their south—in all its complexity.” — San Francisco Chronicle

Following doctors and detectives, environmental activists and indigenous tribes, The Third Bank of the River traces the history of the Amazon from the arrival of the first Spanish flotilla to the drones that are now mapping unexplored parts of the forest. Grounded in rigorous firsthand reporting and in-depth research, Chris Feliciano Arnold reveals a portrait of Brazil and the Amazon that is complex, bloody, and often tragic.

During the 2014 world cup, an isolated Amazon tribe emerged from the rain forest on the misty border of Peru and Brazil, escaping massacre at the hands of loggers who wanted their land. A year later, in the jungle capital of Manaus, a bloody weekend of reprisal killings inflame a drug war that has blurred the line between cops and kingpins. Both events reveal the dual struggles of those living in and around the world’s largest river. As indigenous tribes lose their ancestral culture and territory to the lure and threat of the outside world, the question arises of how best to save isolated tribes: Keep them away from the modern world or make contact in an effort to save them from extinction? As Brazil looks to be a world leader in the twenty-first century, this magnificent and vast region is mired in chaos and violence that echoes the atrocities that have haunted the rain forest since Europeans first traveled its waters.

Chris Feliciano Arnold has written essays and journalism for The Atlantic, Harper's, Foreign Policy, Outside, Vice News, Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, Folha de S. Paulo, Salon, McSweeney’s, The Millions, and more. His fiction has been published in Playboy, The Kenyon Review, Ecotone, and other magazines. His work has been noted in The Best American Sports Writing and The Best American Short Stories. The recipient of a 2014 creative writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, he resides in northern California and teaches writing in the MFA programs at the University of San Francisco and Ashland University. Follow him on Twitter @chrisarnold

Published by Picador USA in June 2018.

More praise for The Third Bank of the River:

“A searing look at the toll violence is taking on residents of the Amazon…Arnold’s account of the threats to indigenous communities―informed by a comprehensive and accessible litany of the abuses they have endured since colonial times―is the highlight of the book.”
— The New York Times Book Review

“An eye-opening exploration of the Amazon rain forest’s underbelly.” — National Geographic

“[A] well-crafted debut…Arnold handles all of the narrative strands expertly and shows a keen eye for detail…. The reader leaves with a newfound understanding of the diversity, complexity, and corruption to be found in the modern Amazon.” — Publishers Weekly

“Arnold pulls few punches in this sobering account of the unfolding genocidal threat, adding another dark layer to the urgent story environmentalists are already telling about how the logging of rain forests is playing a drastically destructive role in climate change.” — Booklist

“Through exhaustive research and firsthand reporting, he reveals how drug lords, loggers, politicians, and tribe leaders have shaped the region, weaving together stories hundreds of years old and others he watched unfold…” — Men's Journal

“A saddening, maddening story that draws much-needed attention to crime without punishment in a remote—but not invisible—part of the world.”
— Kirkus Reviews

“An enlightening narrative that will forever change your perception of the Amazon.” — Shelf Awareness, starred review

“A wide-ranging panorama of this vast region in western Brazil, so full of both promise and suffering. Combining history, contemporary reporting and memoir, Arnold entwines the stories of the region’s Amazon River basin’s endangered indigenous tribes, the violence of the jungle city Manaus and its economy of environmental exploitation and cocaine trafficking…Astonishing” — BookPage

“A striking picture of a country on the edge...smooth, readable...a fine book.”  Santa Barbara News-Press

The Third Bank of the River is the rivetingly told account of Chris Feliciano Arnold’s search for an ultimate homecoming in the Brazilian Amazon. It is also the vital, passionate chronicle of life and death in the world's last Wild West. Riven through with the dramatic stories of those who their lives on the ragged edges of the known world, this book is a must-read.” Jon Lee Anderson, author of Che Guevera: A Revolutionary Life and The Lion’s Grave: Dispatches from Afghanistan

“With The Third Bank of the River, Chris Arnold brings us valuable insights into the forces conspiring to devastate the Amazon and the valiant struggle of those seeking to impose the law in a land where the rule of the gun prevails. A real page-turner.” — Scott Wallace, author of The Unconquered: In Search of the Amazon's Last Uncontacted Tribes