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The Condor And The Cows: A South American Travel Diary

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  51 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
One of the few classic works of South American travel, now available in paperback with a new foreword by Jeffrey Meyers and additional photographs by Isherwood's lover, Bill Caskey. Isherwood frankly depicts the squalor and discomforts of his journey--as he wrote he was very skeptical about the book but later came to regard it as one of his best.
Paperback, 248 pages
Published November 10th 2003 by Univ Of Minnesota Press (first published 1949)
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Apr 09, 2014 Jim rated it it was amazing
I was most of the way through The Condor And The Cows: A South American Travel Diary by Christopher Isherwood when the though suddenly hit me that Paul Theroux was to make almost exactly the same trip thirty years later, when he wrote The Old Patagonian Express. Except, that Isherwood did not see himself as a traveler. Witness his musings as he left Ecuador:
That is the irony of travel. You spend your boyhood dreaming of a magic, impossibly distant day when you will cross the Equator, when your e
Dec 20, 2012 Lisa rated it really liked it
The format is of a travel diary but still Isherwood makes comments and observations about political, social, and economical status of the countries he visits. I notice similarities in each country all these years later and some of his predictions have come true. Interesting and reflective view of early tourism in South America.
Juan Mejía
Mar 08, 2017 Juan Mejía rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I would give it a higher rating if only there where more intimate details on his bonds (if any), with people culture and places that he visited. I feel like he only travelled around staying at the best hotels, never speaks about the food(with everything that it means to understand a culture) never trully speaks with locals since his trip guides where mostly european or north american. I feel that this book doesn't cover or fully describes what south america is. I can only agree to the final page ...more
Truly awful. This is the second (and last!!) travel book i will read of his. I was deeply disappointed because i had so enjoyed the Berlin Stories, but this was full of racism and judgment. I am not sure that he was really aware of it, since it was written in 1949, but for me it's no excuse. (here i am being judgmental)
There are some very interesting pictures of life at that time in the countries they visited, some of festivals and some portraits of local artists. There is even a photo of Borges
Richard Newton
I had mixed feelings about this book. In parts it is brilliant. Isherwood writes with ease, elegance and a deceptively simple style. When he write about people or about his own feelings whilst travelling the book is very good. As a travel guide it is poorer. This would not matter if he never tried to be a travel guide, but there are odd sections here and there which try to give you facts about the countries. Given the book was written over 70 years ago, these are obviously irrelevant except as h ...more
Richard Jespers
Apr 29, 2016 Richard Jespers rated it it was amazing
Writers don’t do this much anymore: take long journeys to foreign countries like those found in South America and pen a single book about it, but that’s what Isherwood does in The Condor and the Cows. He writes about his trip taken with lover-at-the-time and photographer, William Caskey, one that spans six months in 1947-48.

“The meaning of the title should be evident, but perhaps I had better explain that the Condor is the emblem of the Andes and their mountain republics, while the Cows represe
Chris Fellows
Jan 04, 2015 Chris Fellows rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ow, I am overcome now with nostalgia for places and times I have never been, with an intensity that I have not felt for many years. Isherwood has a knack for conveying emotional atmosphere, and in this modified travel diary gives vivid pictures of the places and people he encounters on a journey north to south through South America in 1947-1948.

I am afraid to look up any of the places on his journey on Google to see what they are like nowadays. The South America he travels through is so empty, a
Judith Rich
Feb 06, 2017 Judith Rich rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-harder, travel
I found this fascinating - firstly, he visited some places I've been to in Bolivia and Peru (I'm sorry he stayed in La Paz and let his lover / photographer Caskey go to Oruro without him though - would have liked his views. FREEZING was mine). Secondly, he went in the late 1940s, so he visited Peron-era Argentina and his views on the Perons are very interesting.

He meets a lot of central Europeans - it seems a lot fled to South America before / during / just after WW2, some fleeing the Nazis and
Peter Daerden
Isherwood may not be the greatest of travel writers (as he admits himself in this book) and some parts could have been easily skipped. Still there is some irresistible charm to his writing (which I cannot quite define). In the end, as with all (longterm) travelling, the account gets a bit boring. In fact I doubt whether Isherwood really liked Andean South America, also given his sudden statement that Brazil - not on his itinerary - 'must be much the most interesting and exciting country in South ...more
Aug 25, 2014 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read, if slightly bogged down in places with local politics and literary scenes, though not as dated as I feared it might be. Sherwood's actually pretty funny - too bad he didn't do more travel writing.
Jul 24, 2016 Fredrik rated it really liked it
Shelves: isherwood, nonfiction
Cast o' characters:
Vikas Datta
May 02, 2015 Vikas Datta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A forgotten classic.. and one of the best on the region..
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Christopher Isherwood was a novelist, playwright, screen-writer, autobiographer, and diarist. He was also homosexual and made this a theme of some of his writing. He was born near Manchester in the north of England in 1904, became a U.S. citizen in 1946, and died at home in Santa Monica, California in January 1986.

Isherwood was the grandson and heir of a country squire, and his boyhood was privile
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“And at this very moment, like a miracle, the rail-bus appeared. We waved our arms frantically, hardly daring to hope that it would stop. It did stop. We scrambled thankfully on board.
That is the irony of travel. You spend your boyhood dreaming of a magic, impossibly distant day when you will cross the Equator, when your eyes will behold Quito. And then, in the slow prosaic process of life, that day undramatically dawns—and finds you sleepy, hungry and dull. The Equator is just another valley; you aren’t sure which and you don’t much care. Quito is just another railroad station, with fuss about baggage and taxis and tips. And the only comforting reality, amidst all this picturesque noisy strangeness, is to find a clean pension run by Czech refugees and sit down in a cozy Central European parlor to a lunch of well-cooked Wiener Schnitzel.”
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