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Eight Feet in the Andes: Travels with a Mule in Unknown Peru Paperback – September 1, 2003

4.2 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“She is the best kind of traveler: observant, high-spirited, and impervious to discomfort.”  —The Sunday Telegraph

About the Author

Dervla Murphy is one of the very best loved of travel writers. She was born in County Waterford and since 1964 has been regularly publishing accounts of her journeys - by bicycle and on foot - in the remoter areas of four continents. She has also written about the problems of Northern Ireland, the hazards of nuclear power, and race relations in Britain. The Times Literary Supplement called her 'an admirable woman - she has a romantic soul and a keen eye'.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray; New edition (September 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719565162
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719565168
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,081,788 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Dervla Murphy always delivers good travel stories, liberally dosed with history lessons. Despite all the decriptions of hardship, privation and poverty, Eight Feet in the Andes is lyrically written and exciting: makes you want to trek through the Andes eating stringy goat meat, which is saying something for the author's talent. However, she can overplay that "Look at me, I'm an eccentric gringo lady" hand a bit too often. (She also never seems to have mastered enough Spanish to know that she's using the masculine form of the word.)

The book is marred in places where Murphy can't keep her Western judgments or personal prejudices from coloring her descriptions. Sure, it's her perspective, but seeing her list homosexuality alongside violence and drunkenness as examples of "Indian" depravity is a little startling. Especially in the second half, there are repeated references to the "stupidity" and "low IQ" of the "Indians," and the "intellectual dishonesty" of the entire country. Murphy dismisses the value of literacy in the Sierra when she discovers magazine vendors selling soft porn, calls Peru "a nation of hypocrites," etc. It's funny how she condemns the 16th-century Spanish accounts of Indians as beasts and savages, yet makes similar observations herself and complains that Peruvians having the nerve to drive their trucks through the Peruvian mountains is a kind of "desecration." It's also not clear how she feels able to gauge the natives' intelligence when she herself makes it clear that she has never bothered to learn more than a few words of Quechua. It's definitely worth a read, but brace yourself for some of the more self-righteously arrogant spots in an otherwise broad-minded account.
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Format: Hardcover
Wonderful, uncomplicated and witty descriptions of the environment, culture, peoples and journey. Amazing courage to do what had to be done to get through. Made me want to travel mysel, instead of earning large amounts of money in an office. Truly inspirational.
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Format: Paperback
Although the thought of reading about Dervla Murphy's trip throught the Peruvian Andes did not greatly interest me because of the potential for boring day-by-day narration, I found Murphy's description and narration of her trip very enlightening. Murphy deftly ties together her story of her trip with historical facts and cultural observations of Peru. Although I did not always agree with Murphy's opinion of the Peruvian people, she gave me food for thought during my trip to Peru.
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Format: Hardcover
It's a travelogue, after all, how good can it be? Very good, actually. The Misses Murphy are not only intrepid explorers (lunatic also applies, as Ms. Murphy herself notes), but excellent observers. I suppose that is why she gets published. "Eight Feet" is not only funny but educational, and cannot help but kindle wanderlust in the reader. Best read episodically (think every night before bed) because that is how it is written, one travels with them by sharing in the emotional triumphs and tribulations. While her nature descriptions are evocative, one really connects with the more human aspects of the journey. I can only try to imagine the rivers and mountains, and it took me half the book to grasp what 'puna' referred to geographically. Banks, thievery, and rumbling bellies are in abundance, however, and are what make this book worth reading. The same holds true for "Where the Indus is Young" and, I imagine, the rest of her books. When I've read them, I'll let you know!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
SHE IS NUTZ!!!.......There is something truly refreshing about a 47 year old discovering a grassy slope or knoll ...and compelled to turn somersaults. Yes itz true..this girl is delightfully crazy..and she puts her craziness to work in wonderful employ. Handy with a pen and tough as army boots she sets off anywhere it seems...and has a wow of a time...she is over 80 years old now and what an extraordinary life she hath lived. Hard to believe at times is her unfailing self belief...she sallies forth undaunted into unknown terrain. Her robust build helps for sure but this girl is almost fearless..which is where the lines are blurred somewhat...if she is mad or just very brave matters little. This is worth all of 5 stars coz' itz just unique.
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By A Customer on February 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Dervla Murphy is definitely a one of a kind treasure. The vistas she conjures up in this book are breathtaking. The hardships she endured are more than most of would care to experience in our travels. Still, it's a great armchair experience!
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Format: Paperback
In true Dervla-style, this book logs her journey through the Andes with her young daughter and a mule. The little family traces Pizarro's route through Peru from Cajamarca to Cuzco. Dervla's ability to live so simply, and quite frankly endure such hardships, never ceases to amaze me. Her daughter, Rachel, shares that same talent. As with her other books, she paints a realistic picture of the country; the good, bad, beautiful, and ugly. Ever empathetic and never judgemental, she describes the land, people, villages as well as economic/political situations in an easygoing style.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have very much enjoyed all of her books, but this might be my favorite. I tend to argue political/philosophical perspective as I follow Ms. Murphy on her adventures, but the presence of her young daughter seems to temper that aspect of her somewhat and she spends more time on landscape and immediate situations in this book.
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