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Running the Amazon Paperback – May 12, 1990
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After reaching (via a goat trail) a glacial trickle above 17,000 feet--debatably the farthest source of the Amazon--the team descends to a point where kayaks can be deployed. From there the trip entails kayaking through one of the nastiest white-water canyons on the planet, a stretch of water that has previously claimed the lives or quickly halted the plans of all who attempted to conquer it; navigating an unmapped gorge known affectionately as the Abyss; sneaking through the "Red Zone," an area closed to foreigners and occupied by the notorious Shining Path rebels; and, finally, paddling to the Atlantic by sea kayak through 3,000 miles of hot jungle.
Hired initially to chronicle the project from dry land, Kane quickly assumes a more integral role as a much-needed paddler, and as such he is able to provide vivid, first-hand descriptions of the treacherous water encountered. But in many ways the water is the least imposing obstacle to success. Along the way the team is beset by financial difficulties, a crisis of leadership, attacks from armed rebels, and the defection of team members. Kane's account of this six-month ordeal is much more than a travelogue of athletic endeavor--it's a fascinating portrait of the planning, politics, and personal struggles involved in mounting a modern-day expedition through a vast expanse of largely uncharted territory.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Unknown Binding edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
He has an understated way of writing of his spine-tingling adventures that's particularly suited for high adventure, stuff like extremes of weather, kamikaze bugs, killer rapids, armed guerrillas, fights between the various factions of team members, knee-deep mud, native Indians who'd never seen a white man before (were they cannibals?), cocaine dealers, etc.
I read it twice and then even listened to it on book-on-tape, narrated by Kane himself.
Wonderful. Don't miss it. Then go immediately to your bookstore and buy Tracy Johnston's Shooting the Boh for a woman's take on a similar hairbrained adventure.
The first 177 pages describe the initial 700 miles of the journey; the other 100 pages describe the remaining 3500 miles of the expedition. When I was about 2/3 of the way through the book and learned that they had 3500 miles left to go, I wondered how the author could do justice to this large segment of travel in only 100 pages. I felt shortchanged. I'm not saying that the book had to be 1000 pages long, but I think that more should have been said about the 3500 miles.
The most exciting part was the whitewater rafting/kayaking through the Acobamba Abyss. Having rafted and kayaked before, I could really identify with their struggles. The author wrote in such a way that I could easily picture what was happening (there were some very intense moments). Being that a number of the team members had very little or no whitewater experience, I'm surprised that they survived this trip.
The author did a good job at describing the interaction among the expedition team members (this really added to the story). However, he was too lenient toward Francois Odendaal. Odendaal did not belong on the river at all and made for a very poor expedition leader.
I'm glad I bought the book. In my opinion, the writing style is good but not great. I did learn a lot about the countries and the people that border the river.
It was so much more than an adventure book, although it certainly was that. - This is a personal description of the first expedition to begin in the snowfields of the Andes, at the continental divide, where the first trickle originates, all the way to the Atlantic - 4200 miles. I can imagine, well almost, how treacherous the white water must have been coming out of the Andes, based on how much water we saw flowing down the Amazon even at the junction of its two major tributaries in Peru where the river officially begins.
The majority of "Running the Amazon" takes place in Peru (even though in total miles the majority of the trip is in Brazil). I would estimate that 50% of the text is about the history of the area, mostly Peru, and the culture, past and present. Also, the author is pretty funny - intentionally or not - in how he describes the adventures of he and his colleagues. I have always wondered about the revolutionary group, Shining Path, and since the book is set in the late 1980s, a good description of the group and its history is provided.
Since Joe Kane is not a man who apparently had been a kayaker, or at least anything approaching a serious kayaker, prior to his journey, it makes his adventures more interesting to the average reader like myself, and this is true also for his descriptions of interpersonal difficulties among some of the expedition.Read more ›
I was fascinated by Kane's descriptions of the local citizens in Peru with coca juice running out of their mouths, mile-high canyons where the sun can barely be seen, rebels shooting at them from cliff tops, to supposed head-hunters chasing them on the river.
This is one book where I am glad I did not follow the advice of a "professional" reviewer and ignore it. I enjoyed it so much, I gave my only copy to my mother, who put it into her retirement community's library for others to enjoy.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
My first adventure read. A book well worth it. It tells about the small moments of happiness, and big moments of scare, anger, amongst other emotions. Very well written. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Julian
This book , though about an amazing feat was frustrating, and monotonous to read. It kept begging for the answer to the question " why attempt such a foolish dangerous trip... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Jimbo
I enjoyed the descriptions of the land, the water, and the local people. All matched my recollections of my limited experience with the Andes and the Amazon. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Virginia Reid
Good human interest story, but it is easy to get lost in the place names because no maps are provided. Read morePublished 9 months ago by she caribe
As I portaged my way through this book, waiting for the adventure to begin I stumbled across this nugget of guano (page 66): "Farmers in tabletop-flat Iowa lose a foot and a... Read morePublished 12 months ago by chuck fritz
Looking at the rest of the reviews, I am guessing that they are getting paid to write them. The truth is that I am half way through the book and only one twentieth of the way to... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Brad
The story of a river trip down the Amazon from it's source to its mouth - the difficulties and the dissensions as well as the teamwork and skills necessary. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Jonathan A. Hayes