Daring readers will be inspired to overcome similar challenges—and armchair travelers won’t be disappointed.

AMAZON WOMAN

FACING FEARS, CHASING DREAMS, AND MY QUEST TO KAYAK THE LARGEST RIVER FROM SOURCE TO SEA

A well-paced tale of outdoor adventure.

“We are all, I suppose, confined to specific destinies and mine seems to be chasing rivers.” So writes Gaechter, who decided to mark her 35th birthday—making her ancient, by competitive kayaking standards—by traveling the length of the Amazon River from source to outlet. Why do such a thing? Because it’s there, of course, and no woman had been known to do it before, and there’s no time like the present. Still, in the company of her longtime partner and a like-minded Brit, she tackled the project, emerging 148 days later after crossing South America from the Andes to the Atlantic. The physical challenges were extraordinary, although, the author notes, “keeping a cool head is the most important skill in kayaking, though by far the most difficult to master.” There were plenty of opportunities to exercise that skill, for on top of the churning whitewater rapids and odd critters were the more dangerous denizens of the rainforest, including illegal loggers, Shining Path guerrillas whose “primary operations…now happen in remote jungle areas and involve the lucrative drug trade,” and soldiers of fortune who could be quick with the trigger finger. Then there were the more quotidian culture clashes, for, as Gaechter patiently notes, “time is a point of contention between North Americans and Peruvians,” making an important rendezvous all the more difficult to schedule. Was it worth dying in that jungle war zone in order to exercise her coveted freedom, she asks? The answer was no—but then again, as she writes, “I’d invested a lot of time and suffering already,” reason enough to press on to the next canyon, rapid, anaconda, sulk, argument, and bad feeling (“I didn’t want the person I loved acting like an asshole and lunatic, and that’s what I often felt Don was doing”) while vanquishing inner doubts. The author includes a glossary of kayak terms.

Daring readers will be inspired to overcome similar challenges—and armchair travelers won’t be disappointed.

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64313-314-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

Did you like this book?

more