The Unconquered – Scott Wallace

The Unconquered; “Captivating and brilliant…journalism at its pinnacle.” — Sebastian Junger

  • Booklist: Top Ten Best Literary Travel Books of 2012
  • Silver, Society of American Travel Writers’ Lowell Thomas Award 2012
  • Official Selection, Miami Book Fair International 2012
  • Scott Wallace, Explorers Club’s Lowell Thomas Award, 2012

The Unconquered unfolds the extraordinary tale of a journey into the deepest recesses of the Amazon to track one of the planet’s last uncontacted indigenous tribes.

In this enthralling first-person account of adventure and survival, the author joins a 34-man team venturing into the Amazon’s uncharted depths, uncovering the rainforest’s secrets while edging ever closer to a possible encounter with the mysterious flecheiros – or “People of the Arrow” – a seldom-glimpsed tribe of skilled archers known to defend their lands with deadly arrows before disappearing back into the forest shadows.

On assignment for National Geographic, author Scott Wallace accompanies the brooding and charismatic explorer Sydney Possuelo on a daring mission: penetrate the jungle redoubts of the Arrow People, gather crucial information about them, and return to civilization without making contact.

As the head of Brazil’s Department of Isolated Indians, Possuelo aims to protect the Arrow People and their rainforest homeland from the encroaching frontier.

However, the information needed to safeguard them can only be gleaned by entering a world of darkness and danger beneath the forest canopy, seeking out the untamed tribesmen while simultaneously trying to avoid them.

Interwoven with lessons from anthropology and the sweep of history, and featuring a cast of unforgettable characters—all propelled by a passion to preserve the wild, yet plagued by fear, suspicion, and the urgent need to make it home alive—The Unconquered unveils this critical battleground in the fight to save the planet in a way rarely seen, enveloped in a gripping adventure tale.


“A quest for a wild people in a last wilderness on an expedition that is scarcely conceivable anymore. A genuine adventure…exciting and authentic — a tremendous pleasure to read. “

  • Peter Matthiessen, author of Shadow Country and The Snow Leopard

“A riveting and brilliant book endowed with the pacing of a novel but carrying the weight of significant world events. This is journalism at its absolute best. “

  • Sebastian Junger, author of War and The Perfect Storm

“Scott Wallace has penned an absolutely wonderful and gripping account of his journey into the Amazon. Along the way, he illuminates this fascinating land and its still unknown people.”

  • David Grann, author of The Lost City of Z

“The Unconquered is not only a riveting story—filled with vivid detail and heart-stopping moments—but a first-hand account of a rare and critically important expedition. Wallace and the men with whom he traveled risked their lives navigating the territory of the flecheiros, one of the most isolated and dangerous tribes in the Amazon. The story Wallace returned with will keep you up at night.”

  • Candice Millard, author of The River of Doubt

“Exquisitely observed and beautifully told, The Unconquered ranks among the very best of modern adventure stories, even more so for the profound questions about man and nature that it explores. “

  • Scott Anderson, author of Triage and The Man Who Tried to Save the World

“The Unconquered may be the most engrossing and profound recounting of an Amazon adventure since that long-ago masterpiece, Tristes Tropiques.”

  • Francisco Goldman, author of Say Her Name

“Scott Wallace’s superbly-written account is as riveting as one of the old explorer’s classic memoirs. Reading The Unconquered left me with a sense of awe that we share this world with people like the flecheiros — and profoundly moved by the inevitability of their extinction.

It is a one-of-a-kind book about a one-of-a kind experience, and it is difficult to imagine that there will be many more like it.”

  • Jon Lee Anderson, author of Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life

“Like his legendary predecessors Col. Candido Rondon and the Villa Boas brothers, Sydney Possuelo is a national treasure in Brazil, one of an extraordinary lineage of frontiersmen and humanists who have put their lives on the line in order to protect the unconquered, the last survivors of El Dorado, the uncontacted tribes of the Amazon.

In this wonderful book, Scott Wallace — a veteran chronicler of the Amazon — accompanies Possuelo on an expedition into the most remote reaches of the unknown.

The result is an astonishing account that reveals all the drama, passions, contradictions, and dangers inherent in the quixotic yet essential devotions of a cadre that for more than a century has truly lived by the motto, ‘Die if you must, but never kill.’ “

  • Wade Davis, author of Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest

“Scott Wallace writes with great verve about an amazing adventure, a journey informed by his deep knowledge of the history and anthropology of the Amazon.”

  • Peter Bergen, author of The Osama bin Laden I Know and The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al-Qaeda

“Scott Wallace brings back such riches from this expedition: great characters, deep paradoxes, adventure, wonder, pain. What a yarn! This consummately remote world, the Amazon wilderness, comes thickly to life on the page.”

  • William Finnegan, author of Cold New World and A Complicated War

“Scott Wallace leads us through uncharted tributaries of the Amazon to the edge of one of the last uncontacted communities in the world, the ferociously private and enigmatic Flecheiros — the “People of the Arrow.”

Along the way, we meet a cast of fascinating and complex characters, the star of which is the brilliant and charismatic explorer Sydney Possuelo. I’ve read as many works on this topic as I can find. This is the best by far.”

  • Mark Dowie, author of Conservation Refugees: The Hundred Year Conflict Between Global Conservation and Native Peoples