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White Gold: the Diary of a Rubber Cutter in the Amazon

By Ghillean T. Prance and John C. Yungjohann

This diary of a rubber cutter from Brooklyn, NY in search of his fortune in Brazil. Written  the turn of the century 1896 – 1906 tells a tale of extraordinary survival, managing to escape the rubber barons debt economy that effectively enslaved thousands of men.


Publication Date: March 15, 2012 ISBN: 978-090779116-4 Categories: , , Tags: ,

Ghillean T. Prance

Ghillean T. Prance is the former Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, UK, and a leading figure in the ecology, taxonomy and ethnobotany of the Amazon Basin. From 1981 to 1988, he served as the Vice-President for Science at the New York Botanical Garden and as Founding-Director of the New York Botanical Garden’s Institute of Economic Botany. He is a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London and the Explorers Club, a Member of the Royal Danish Academy of Science and Letters, and a Corresponding Member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences.

John C. Yungjohann

John C. Yungjohann wrote his diary at the turn of the century, and documented some of the horrors of daily life for a rubber cutter at the height of the Amazon rubber boom. He was an adventurer and an artist. He died in 1930.


This title is temporarily out of stock. Please email us at to be notified when it is back in stock. We anticipate by End of September 2020. Apologies for any inconvenience. It will be also available as an ebook.  The crisis of the rainforest began a century ago when it was discovered to be a source of rubber. This brought commercial interests into collision with this complex ecology – its plants,its animals and its peoples. At the height of the rubber boom in the early years of this century, a young American, John Yungjohan, struggled for survival as a rubber cutter. The diaries he kept have recently come to light and have been edited by Sir Ghillean Prance of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, England, one of the foremost botanical gardens in the world. Dr. Prance is a leading expert on the rainforest. The diaries were written from 1986 to 1906, the height of the rubber boom. are especially poignant now since the rubber cutters are fighting to preserve something of the original forest against the ravages of the indiscriminate destruction which still ignores the true wealth of the region – its almost incomprehensible variety of species. It is a tale of humanity and the natural order working together in the midst of greed and ignorance. Ghillean Prance enhances the text with his own contemporary photographs and identifies the fungi, plants and animals which are mentioned in the pages of the diaries.

Additional information

Weight .4375 lbs
Dimensions 6 × 8.5 × .3 in
Pages 0

2 reviews for White Gold: the Diary of a Rubber Cutter in the Amazon

  1. greggw

    It is thoroughly pleasing, easy reading and would make a good supplement to a high-lelvel college course that deals with economic plants on the Amazon… Plan on reading it in one sitting.
    —George K. Rogers, Missouri Botanical Gardens

  2. greggw

    Readers of this journal will find this first hand account fascinating and will appreciate the efforts of a work-weary rubber cutter to not only survive the experience but to write about it.
    —Willard Van Adsall, Journal of Ethnobiology

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