This book can't decide on a purpose. Is it a journalist's harrowing tale of adventure, seeking any clues about the disappearance of a famous explorer sThis book can't decide on a purpose. Is it a journalist's harrowing tale of adventure, seeking any clues about the disappearance of a famous explorer some eighty years in the past? Is it a biography about that famous, fearless explorer? Is it about the mystery about a lost civilization? The subjects seem riveting, and there are moments when I am utterly spellbound by the description of the horrors that faced those who dared to traverse this formidable place. The parasites alone seem like something out of a horror movie. There are many times, however, as I listened to this as an audiobook, that my mind began to wander, and when household chores seemed more appealing. Like the great river itself, the book gets bogged down and loses its steam. It was hardly surprising the author found no evidence regarding the Fawcet Party and its ultimate fate in the jungle. It is hardly surprising that the author found no lost civilization of Z, El Dorado, or much more beyond the suggestion that there are Amazonian tribes that may have had fairly organized communities. The great take-away at the end is that the author can easily visualize what that would look like given that many tribes have not completely deviated from their traditional cultures.
Overall, the story had a lot of potential about was greatly in need of editing out the non-essentials and focusing on an overall sense of purpose and direction. ...more
This meticulously researched book was the result of an archaeological discovery in Toronto in 1985. From this dig, the author, a well respected archa This meticulously researched book was the result of an archaeological discovery in Toronto in 1985. From this dig, the author, a well respected archaeologist and historian, was able to piece together the lives of Thornton and Lucie Blackburn, long forgotten citizens of Toronto, who had arrived as fugitive slaves, after a harrowing series of escapes. Their story and the legal precedents surrounding it, was instrumental in establishing the Canadian response to tens of thousands of refugees fleeing the U.S. to Canada at the height of the Underground Railroad. The Blackburn story is unforgettable, with twists and turns, and strange coincidences, that make this seem much more like a novel than a well researched historical work. At the heart, it is a love story, demonstrating incredible courage, resiliency, and resourcefulness, but even without such unforgettable protagonists, there is much to be gained by getting a better understanding of slavery on the border states and the many implications of the Fugitive Slave Act in both the northern states as well as Canada. ...more
I started and re-started this memoir over the course of the last two years, and got initially bogged down in the details of Obama's life as a communitI started and re-started this memoir over the course of the last two years, and got initially bogged down in the details of Obama's life as a community organizer. There is in no doubt that there are numerous scenes that could have and should have been omitted, and moments where his purpose seems ill-defined, however, persistence pays off. Scenes from his childhood in Indonesia and the insights gathered there, along with emerging discoveries about his family in Kenya, were highlights for me. He struggles with issues of racial and cultural identity in a way that attempts to convey all the complexities, missteps, and assumptions that even the best intentioned and most passionate human beings do make. Each complicated segment of his own family, reflects all the ambiguity associated with race, class, and culture--ambiguities that are as strained in rural Kenya as they are in New York, Hawaii, California, and Indonesia. I leave the book, feeling profoundly grateful that the author, takes those experiences and insights with him to the White House. ...more