If you were handed a novel that describes someone being carried downriver “while grasping the back of a gigantic anaconda ‘as thick as a small cow and easily well over twenty-five feet long,’ ” would you believe that writer? Probably not. Fiction that’s too outlandish feels false, but nonfiction should be verifiable. That description, by the way, appears in Mother of God: An Extraordinary Journey into the Uncharted Tributaries of the Western Amazon, one of the books in this week’s list of thoughtfully written tales you might be startled to know are true.
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