When We Sold God's Eye

Diamonds, Murder, and a Clash of Worlds in the Amazon


By Alex Cuadros

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$41.00 CAD

The unbelievable true story of the Cinta Larga, a tribe first contacted by Westerners in the 1960s, who came to run an illegal diamond mine in the depths of the Amazon.

Growing up in a remote corner of the world’s largest rainforest, Pio, Maria, and Oita learned to hunt wild pigs and tapirs, gathering Brazil nuts and açaí berries from centuries-old trees. Then the first highway pierced through, ranchers, loggers, and prospectors invaded, and they lost their families to terrible new weapons and diseases. Pushed by the government to assimilate, they struggled to figure out their new, capitalist reality, discovering its wonders as well as its horrors. They ended up forging an uneasy symbiosis with their white antagonists—until decades of suppressed trauma erupted into a massacre, an act of retribution that made headlines across the globe. 

Based on six years of immersive reporting and research, WHEN WE SOLD GOD’S EYE tells a unique kind of adventure story, one that begins with a river journey by Teddy Roosevelt and ends with smugglers from Antwerp and New York City’s Diamond District. It’s a story of survival against all odds; of the temptations of wealth and the dream of prosperity; of a vital ecosystem threatened by the hunger for natural resources; of genocide and revenge. It’s a story as old as the first European encounters with Indigenous people, playing out in the present day. But most of all, it’s about a few startlingly clever individuals and their power to adapt and even thrive in the most unlikely circumstances.




  • When We Sold God’s Eye is an extraordinary work of narrative nonfiction, telling the gripping and astonishing story of how a small group in the Amazon, invaded and brutally treated by white settlers and miners, retaliated through killing and violence, and ended up exploiting an illicit diamond mine themselves. This is a complex and tragic story, deeply reported and beautifully written by Alex Cuadros—a remarkable literary achievement. I highly recommend this book.”
    Douglas Preston, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Lost City of the Monkey God
  • "Of all the indigenous peoples contacted in the Amazon in the past century, the Cintas Largas ('Broad Belt') people of south-western Brazil suffered terribly from the discovery of gold and diamonds in their rivers, with the resulting settler invasion with fatal diseases and a massacre.  But these were the only group that retaliated - by killing many wildcat miners, in 2004, and themselves learning how to prospect profitably.  Alex Cauadros spent years culturally imbedded with all these people, and tells their tragic but exciting story.  He achieves the remarkable feat of understanding and sympathizing with both sides' attitudes, cultures and motives, told by a vibrant cast of real people. "
    John Hemming, author of The Conquest of the Incas and People of the Rainforest

On Sale
Dec 3, 2024
Page Count
352 pages

Alex Cuadros

About the Author

Alex Cuadros is the author of Brazillionaires: Wealth, Power, Decadence, and Hope in an American Country, which was long-listed for the Financial Times Business Book of the Year award. A former Bloomberg staff reporter, he’s also written for the New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Atlantic, and The Washington Post, and his article on the Amazon’s ecological tipping point was chosen for2024’s Best American Science and Nature Writing. This book was supported by the Alicia Patterson Foundation and the Fund for Investigative Journalism; Cuadros has also received grants from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. He spent six years based in Brazil and has been reporting from the Amazon since 2013. He now lives with his wife in San Francisco.

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