The Rubber Soldiers were an army of 55,000 men from the Brazilian northeast, who were sent to the Amazon basin to harvest rubber for the Allied War effort under an agreement between Brazil and the US. Approximately 26,000 of these men died in the Amazon of malaria, yellow fever, and other jungle afflictions. Many of the original tappers are still alive, now in their late nineties, and living in slums in major Amazonian cities, still awaiting compensation. This book proves the US did pay for the rubber, contrary to common belief in Brazil that they did not. The book also shows that the Allied air bases on Brazil? northeastern coast were critical in defeating the Germans in North Africa, and containing the German U-boat effort in the south Atlantic. This aspect of WWII has rarely been reported and yet it may have been one of the most important events of the war.
Gary and Rose Neeleman? history in Brazil dates back to the early 1950s when Gary served as a missionary for the LDS Church in the Brazilian interior. The couple later lived in Brazil for seven more years, while Gary was a correspondent for United Press International, and one of the very few foreign reporters at that time that spoke, read, and wrote in Portuguese. Gary? time in Brazil as a correspondent was not long after the end of WWII, and a lot of his reporting had to do with the aftermath of the war in the South American countries. Fascinated with Brazilian history and culture, the couple wrote a best selling English language cookbook, and later chronicled the construction of the building of an Amazonic railroad from 1867?913,?Tracks in the Amazon, which was awarded the best non-fiction book in the Lain American, originally in Portuguese.