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The Darkest Jungle: The True Story of the Darien Expedition and America's Ill-Fated Race to Connect the Seas
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The Darkest Jungle: The True Story of the Darien Expedition and America's Ill-Fated Race to Connect the Seas

3.48 of 5 stars 3.48  ·  rating details  ·  184 ratings  ·  26 reviews
“Commit yourself to the Virgin Mary, for in her hands is the way into the Darién—and in God’s is the way out.”

The Darkest Jungle tells the harrowing story of America’s first ship canal exploration across a narrow piece of land in Central America called the Darién, a place that loomed large in the minds of the world’s most courageous adventurers in the nineteenth century. W
Audio, 0 pages
Published December 30th 2003 by Random House Audio (first published 2003)
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I was surprised that this wasn't more interesting. Seems like just the kind of adventure story I'd love but I never really connected with the characters in this one.
A great example of what not to do, if you're ever looking for a good time in central America towards the former half of the 20th century.
Great subject matter about a time and place when men were courageous and selfless and noble and gutsy. My guess is that the editor loused Balf's book up. When reading DJ, there are plenty of moments when the editors chop can be felt. Balf did huge research on his subject, but the finished product doesn't really add up to an awesome experience. What is awesome is the degree to which Balf goes into the past to unearth long forgotten secrets. This is also a noteworthy book in that it evokes awarene ...more
Todd Balf's "The Darkest Jungle" is a wonderful account of the Darien expedition, which marched its away across a section of Panama jungle in the hopes of determining a route for the much hoped for Panama Canal.

The expedition, led by Isaac Strain, relied on bad information and marched its way in the wrong direction, following the wrong river through a dense tract populated by terrifed natives (who fled their villages, burned their homes and hacked apart their canoes to keep them out of the white
Oct 20, 2012 Judy rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Around the Worlders
A nice chronicling of the Strain Expedition to discover a route through the Panama isthmus for a shipping canal. Interesting, educational, a well-written account of suffering, adventure and courage.

I did find the construction of this audiobook a little odd as the first 5 cds told the story of the expedition, the next 2 discussed what happened to the members of the expedition after it was over and the last one was an epilogue narrating the author's own attempt to retrace the route. Although, I l
A trifle over-embellished, but the story is so fantastic that it would feel like a disservice to tell it in anything other than a shrouded, campfire mood. I started listening to the audiobook while we were in Panama and finished it off over several days when we returned. It allowed me to stretch the feeling of adventure I had visiting this mysterious and often contrary part of the world just one week longer, sneaking gradually back to my humdrum day-to-day existence.

I recommend it to anyone trav
Robert Melnyk
Pretty interesting book about the exploration of the Darien area in search for a route to build a canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. I learned quite a bit about the history of the effort to build this canal. This book was about an exploring expedition that was searching for a route for the canal in the Darien area which is east of where the canal would eventually be built. Interesting story of exploration and survival.
The structure of the book is necessary due to the inability of anyone to locate the original expedition journals but a lot of momentum is lost when the exciting, brutal tale of survival ends with more than a third of the book to go.
Warning to those who listen on audiobook: there is no indication there are footnotes until you get to the next to last chapter. The last 45 minutes are all endnotes. Not good. Also, I had a hard time following the journey with those maps I could get online.
Shackelton in Central America. This book chronicles the tragic story of the Issac Strain expedition to find/survey a route for a possible canal across the Isthmus of Darien. Like Scott & Shackelton who followed later, this is a "Man against nature" story as the survey crew becomes lost, and then must battle the Central American jungle for survival.
Well written, it also provides a bit of historical perspective on the Central American Isthumus some 50 years or more before the building of the P
Jimmy Tarlau
I found this to be enjoyable though had to buy the book (used) so I could look at the maps while listening to it in the car (when I stopped!). This is a story of one of the early expeditions to try and find a water route through the Panama isthmus. It was 50 years before the building of the Panama Canal and ended up being somewhat of a disaster with a number of the people in the party dying during the trip. It is well written and is part of a genre that I enjoy - stories of those people who have ...more
An interesting subject, so I don't really know why I could not quite get into it.
I had never heard about the Darien Expidition but decided to give this book a try. It's not a bad book. Interesting and educational. A good little bit of history. If I had a stronger interest in the subject matter I probably would have found the book very good. It's not a bad book though. I definitely learned a few hings about this event and don't regret my decision to read it.
Brian Sutton
Excellent history on the attempts to bridge the seas through Darien.
So much information that it was a little hard to follow. Enjoyed reading about the earliest expeditions to find the route between the two oceans. Basic navagational skills and much hardship for these early explorers.
Exploration of the Panamanian jungle. Not as exciting as some exploration books--a lot of setbacks for this group who started their explorations with a lot of faulty information. Interesting story, but it moves slowly.
A pretty interesting account of a miserable trip through the jungle. The book started a little slowly, but picked up once the adventure began. It's no "Heart of the Sea", but still not a bad read.
Very interesting, engrossing read. An interesting chapter of American/Panamanian history I didn't know much about. The head of the expedition was from near my hometown, too.
this was hard to get into, but an interesting read on one of the many expeditions to build the panama canal. somewhat gruesome and depressing though.
BOOK:1853 expedition by U.S. Lt. Strain to find a Panamanian canal route thru inhospitable Darien wilderness
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Be amazed at just what an incredible accomplishment was the building of the Panama Canal!
these explorers must have had a death wish. Painful to read.
Christmas present 2012 for my sweetheart.
This just bored me to death.
Eric Pedersen
Eric Pedersen marked it as to-read
Jan 26, 2015
Becky Dawson
Becky Dawson marked it as to-read
Jan 25, 2015
Tad Augustyn
Tad Augustyn marked it as to-read
Jan 24, 2015
Stephanie marked it as to-read
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