This book would have been near-perfect if it had cut off the last few chapters... I thought the author went off on a tangent writing about himself andThis book would have been near-perfect if it had cut off the last few chapters... I thought the author went off on a tangent writing about himself and his own tree-climbing. The first 3/4 of the book were amazingly educational, and I relished reading through the chapters. ...more
Why would a talented and gifted young man walk away from his life of promise and lead the life of a penniless wanderer? Jon Krakauer, the nature/traveWhy would a talented and gifted young man walk away from his life of promise and lead the life of a penniless wanderer? Jon Krakauer, the nature/travel journalist, takes on this question in the story of Chris McCandless, who after two years of coast-to-coast travel, was found dead in the Alaskan wildreness.
Krakauer retraces McCandless's steps from his childhood to his days at Emory and uncovers a smart, compassionate young man who revelled in the works of Tolstoy, Jack London, and other figures who advocated a simple self-sufficient existence, turning away from money, government, etc. He interviews several people that Chris, "Alex Supertramp" as he calls himself, met in his hitch hiking travels and discusses his journal writings. I appreciated Krakauer's style of being in the story as an author/journalist, but keeping the story in its purest form.
Krakauer first encountered this story after McCandless's death in 1992. He wrote a feature story in Outside magazine, but was very interested in McCandless, so he decided to research the events more. This book is the further research. He provides some insight and answers some of the questions with his own experiences as a mountaineer and outdoorsman. ...more
I listened to this all day - the story was so compelling, yet so tragic. Krakauer describes his ascent to Everest's summit in 1996, and describes theI listened to this all day - the story was so compelling, yet so tragic. Krakauer describes his ascent to Everest's summit in 1996, and describes the tragedies of losing teammates on the trip. An amazing account of adventure in a truly breathtaking landscape. ...more
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful: 5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational and Engaging Account, July 9, 2006
Although large in size, and fille 1 of 1 people found the following review helpful: 5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational and Engaging Account, July 9, 2006
Although large in size, and filled with breathtaking photographs, this book includes so much more than the regular "picture book". Robyn's thoughtful words make you feel as if you are traveling right along with her and her famous camels. The story is engaging and heart-wrenching; and the reader runs through the same emotions that Robyn feels at each leg of the journey, from the tragedy of loss to the jubilation of completion.
Beautiful and introspective - and very highly recommended. ...more
Following in the footsteps of Scottish explorer Mungo Park, who traversed the land and the river in the eighteenth century, Salak sets out to kayak doFollowing in the footsteps of Scottish explorer Mungo Park, who traversed the land and the river in the eighteenth century, Salak sets out to kayak down the Niger River in the west African country of Mali. Unlike Park's ill-fated -and ultimately fatal- journey, Salak makes it to Timbuktu, the ancient "city of gold" right below the Saharan desert. Her journey was funded by the National Geographic Society, and she often runs into the hired photographer who is documenting her travels at stops along the river. (His photographs of Salak's journey can be seen on her website) She sets out from Old Segou with only a few vocabulary words of local tribal languages and a working knowledge of French. She has her inflatable red canoe, and a backpack of supplies.
Salak's writing style is very engaging - her strength and her fortitude come across in her writing, though never with a tone of arrogance. Each trial or trouble she encounters (and they are many: ripping a bicep muscle on the first day, hostile tribes, hippopatomi, dysentery) is documented clearly and unbiased. Any other person would have called it quits - but Salak finds courage and prevails in all of the circumstances.
Interwoven throughout her own narrative, Salak recounts Park's journey, over two hundred years before her own. Park was taken hostage, many of his crew members died, and he eventually died as well, although the circumstances surrounding his death are unclear. Salak relies on Park's diaries and determines that while they are from centuries ago, many of the stories hold true: other places have changed, but this region of Africa has largely remained the same.
My only criticism of the book is that this incredible journey is condensed into a rather small book. I would have enjoyed more passages about the river itself, describing the geography, the biology, and the life of this body of water. The river is undoubtedly a character in the book, but it is largely unknown to the reader - a looming figure that is left a mystery. Perhaps this was done consciously, showing that the river cannot be understood or predicted. The other complaint comes from the last chapter: when Salak arrives in Timbuktu, she makes it her mission to free two "slave" women (they work without compensation and are fully abused by their masters, yet the Malian government refuses to call it "slavery", despite this whole caste of people - the Bella - being continuously subjugated) from their Tuareg masters. She describes how this has been one of the missions of the whole trip. Then why did she mention it for the first time in the last 10 pages of the book? As a reader, I felt a little cheated for not knowing this earlier... that should have been something talked about at the beginning of the account. Her work is admirable, without a doubt, and she does "free" two women and gives them gold coins in order to start their own business. This whole encounter is discussed so quickly, that it almost seems like a gloss-over of the whole practice. Salak has to know that giving these women a gold coin is not going to make their life better; that being said, I am not discounting her action. One woman cannot go up against hundreds of years of the "peculiar institution" in a slowly developing country. I do wonder what happened to those two women after Salak left them in Timbuktu, only minutes after "freeing" them.
Salak's amazing journey left me hungry for more adventure - luckily she has a few more books on her other travels. She is a strikingly brave and courageous person, and a good writer too. I look forward to more. ...more
Due to the size of this book, many would simply think of it as a coffee table photography book. While the photos are quite stunning, all captured by DDue to the size of this book, many would simply think of it as a coffee table photography book. While the photos are quite stunning, all captured by Davis himself over the last 25 years in the field, it is the text that is the real gem. Davis currently researches as a National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence, but his career has led him to very remote areas of the world to learn about the distinct "ethnosphere", and the modern phenomenon of these vanishing cultures. With amazing detail, gathered first-hand and through interviews, he discusses his research in British Columbia, the Andes of Peru and Bolivia, the Amazon basin (Peru, Brazil, Ecuador),lowland Orinoco settlements in Venezuela and Colombia, Haiti, Malaysia, Kenya, Tibet, Australia, and Nunavut (among others with less detail). He notes that great effort has been put towards protecting biodiversity, while cultural diversity, as well as language is being lost everyday. With nods to many of the great anthropologists and scientists of the 19th and 20th century, he recognizes that modern nations can enrich themselves by accepting and encouraging the inherent diversity, "not as failed attempts at modernity", but as new opportunities to see the human experience in full color.
I have had the great opportunity to see Dr. Davis speak twice at the National Geographic Society in DC, both times sharing stories and research in Peru. His insights have enriched my travels, and reading this book made me long for Peru even more!...more